Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Feb 032009

Under Obama, DEA Raids Again, This Time in Force - Americans for Safe Access

  • February 03, 2009 4:49 PM
Today the ASA office spent the better part of the afternoon responding to what's become the same old song and dance from the Drug Enforcement Administration.  We confirmed two simultaneous raids by DEA agents on L.A. medical cannabis dispensaries this afternoon, though we had word that there may have been as many as four.  I myself spent the afternoon on the phone with people who were very angry, people who were devastated; defeated, and people who were genuinely terrified that the federal agents would come to their homes tomorrow, knock on their doors, put handcuffs on their wrists, and take them away for the rest of their lives. For 8 years under the Bush Administration, DEA had developed a policy to reconcile the difference between the federal laws they enforce and those passed by voters and state legislatures in California and 12 other states.    The policy?   Opportunity. They knew that state laws allowed people to grow and provide cannabis to others who were qualified to use it to treat an illness, cure a disease, calm a sideeffect of a treatment like chemotherapy or vicious anti-viral medications, or ease the pain at the end of their lives.    They knew that the state law allowed people to come together to provide this plant to those who needed it, that they would do so publicly, and that it would leave them open to being treated like our country's worst drug king-pins - under federal law anyway.  They would work with city governments, advertise to the community for those who needed it, in good faith help patients who wanted to get cannabis from a safe place rather than on the street from a drug dealer.  And they would do all of it out of a clearly marked building; number in the phone book, address on the internet, open and available for those who needed it. For the DEA it was like shooting fish in a bucket. No investigations, no real work, all they had to do is show up, break down the door, smash all the glass, destroy the security cameras of those who would willingly let them in if they asked, point semi-automatic machine guns at men, women, and children when they came to their homes... throw them to the ground, knee on the back, boot on the neck, and take all the medicine in open display cases that had been grown by regular people protected by their state laws to do just that.   Some would laugh on the way out.  Some would leave tasteless and vicious notes like, "All Hippies Die" for the workers to find as they rummaged through what was left of their property. Then they would bring charges, take them to court, and not allow a word in front of a federal jury about the laws with which they complied, they mayor who came to visit the collective, the business association that saw them as valued members of the community, the scores and hundreds of people struggling through cancer, HIV, terrible pain, mental illnesses, and various other afflictions for which doctors across the state had said that  - yes indeed, cannabis could probably help. And then these people were sent to prison.  Where they sit today. This is what the Bush Administration directed its DEA Administrators Karen Tandy and Michelle Leonhart to do to American citizens.   Here in the United States of America, this is the reality we live everyday. I don't know what the Obama Administration will do.  I don't know if he'll stop the raids, as he said he would on the campaign trail and after the election, or if he'll allow them to go on... and we'll be asked by the Democrats in power to just, well... bare with him a little while longer.  After all, he doesn't want to spend the "political capital" on our issue just yet, but he supports us deep down.  He'll come to bat for us when we really need it. Well we need it.  We need it now, and we need it today.  I understand the give and take of politics.  I understand that sometimes "now is not the right time".  And I know that our struggle feels like it can't blow the most important chance for basic protections we've had in over 30 years.  I even understand "means and ends".  I understand all that.  But I also know that when it comes down to Charles, Adele, Mickey, Dan, Dustin... politicians make a choice.  And if that choice is "political capital", then there are people who are going to suffer and suffer bad.  And they had better believe that. I don't know what our President will do.  My heart is desperate to trust him; but I think its desperate to trust any politician who gives a nod that he or she might recognize the vast evidence of the profound medical breakthroughs in this plant.  After all its been now almost 40 years since the plant was placed in the fateful "Schedule I: No Medical Value".   I don't know what he'll do, but I do know one thing: this plant has got a long and bright future of exciting medical discoveries ahead of it.   And as the science continues to come out, there is going to be a lot of shame to go around and a lot of people who don't want to own up to the suffering they helped cause.   But I for one am not going to easily forget the ones who stood by and let this happen.  I won't be spiteful, but I will remember. And I also know that if President Obama does help us, it will not be because we deserved it, but because we demanded it. Call his comment line during office hours (M-F, 9am-5pm) and tell him how you feel: (202) 456-1111 And while you're at it, call the new Attorney General, Eric Holder, too: (202) 353-1555 Here's a script or speak from the heart: "Hi, my name is ___________.  The DEA just raided multiple L.A. medical cannabis dispensaries, despite President Obama's pledge to end federal threats, intimidation, and interference in states that have medical cannabis laws.  This needs to STOP!  Please understand that we're suffering and living in fear of our own DEA.  Please help us and stop these raids." Please be respectful on the phone and know that you're speaking to volunteers, but if you do feel a little angry... I will understand.
Feb 022009

ASA Weekly Alert 1-30-2009 - Americans for Safe Access

  • February 02, 2009 6:15 AM

1. Thanks to Activist Opposition, LA Planning Committee Puts Off Dispensary Vote

This week, the Los Angeles City Council's Planning Committee delayed a decision on a new medical cannabis ordinance that would have regulated dispensing collectives operating in city limits. The draft ordinance would have created a number of new restrictions, including requiring each member of a dispensing collective to provide their personal information to the LA City Clerk's office.  It would have regulated security systems, and required dispensing collectives to store cannabis in a locked vault or safe, and would also have prohibited the sale of edible cannabis products. Concern expressed by advocates, patients, and Councilman Dennis Zine, who said that the new regulations would end up shutting down many of the city's currently operating dispensing collectives. Major criticisms were voiced with the regulation process, as the proposed ordinance was not disclosed to the community until just hours before the meeting.  In addition, the city attorney's office did not included a single one of the suggestions put forward by the patients and activists who participated in a working group for more than a year.  It was these considerations that contributed to the council's decision to delay action on the regulations. Pay close attention to this issue if you live in the LA area, as it has critical implications for the future of LA dispensaries. For more information, visit ASA's site to read the AG Guidelines, as well as ASA's report on what they mean for dispensing collectives.

2. San Francisco Supervisors to Consider New Regulations

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a proposal brought forth by SF Mayor Gavin Newsom that enacted regulations  requiring operators of medical cannabis dispensing collectives to hand over financial records, to keep detailed information of members, and tighten the requirements for operating as nonprofit or not-for-profit establishments. Newsom's proposal to tighten dispensary restrictions comes on the back of guidelines released by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, intended to inform law enforcement and the suggested best practices of the dispensing collectives. Although Newsom claimed his proposal seeks to protect clinics from DEA raids, federal authorities have shown little rhyme or reason in their selection of dispensaries.  ASA finds increasing evidence that local law enforcement often plays a leading role in calling in federal agents to raid collectives who are compliant, in an attempt to circumvent local laws. The ordinance requiring dispensing collectives to keep membership records came on the heels of an abandoned proposal that would have had medical cannabis clinics keep a list of names and address of patient members.  The keeping of personal information ignited outrage among advocates. Newsom's proposal offers specific requirements in dispensing collectives which operate "not for profit" and, when requested by city health officials, provide financial records. Nine medical dispensaries have received city permits to operate and 14 others are going through the permitting process, according to the Department of Public Health.

3. Fort Bragg Enacts New Cultivation Limits

The Fort Bragg City Council voted unanimously this week on an ordinance to restrict medical cannabis cultivation. The ordinance, which has been in the works since July of last year, prohibits outdoor growing, making medical grade cannabis growth cost prohibitive to those low income patients who cannot afford expensive indoor lighting and growing systems.  It also limits indoor grows to 50 square feet or 250 cubic feet per residential unit, though permits costing about $600 would be required to increase that amount to 100 square feet or a maximum of 500 cubic feet. The ordinance also requires a special permit for cultivation in multi-family units, and prohibits growing medical cannabis  for money and cultivating near schools or parks. In addition, cultivation will be allowed only in certain zones; particularly suburban residential, low density residential and medium density residential zoning districts. A permit would be required to grow in city and high-density districts.   Noncompliance with the ordinance could result in a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail. Fort Bragg does not recognize collectives and cooperatives as a legal entities, which is one reason that advocates have expressed concern that the regulations are in violation of California's Compassionate Use Act. At the end of the hearing, council members included language that stating the city does not intend to conflict with the federal controlled substances act or the Compassionate Use Act, though it may certainly do the latter.
Feb 012009

Eat, Sleep, Swim… and Smoke - Americans for Safe Access

US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals in the Beijing games last year, was photographed smoking cannabis at a college party in November. He issued the standard apology after a picture of him holding a water pipe surfaced in the tabloids this week, telling the Associated Press he engaged in “regrettable” behavior and “demonstrated bad judgment." Time will tell if the incident will have any effect of Phelps’ career or his lucrative endorsement contracts. So why is cannabis use by a 23-year old athlete considered newsworthy? Phelps is a public figure, of course, and tabloids need to manufacture controversy in order to sell copies and ads. But setting aside the shortcomings sensational media, there is still a great public ambivalence about using cannabis. Parents and pundits will wring their hands in the op-ed pages worrying what message Phelps’ transgression sends to children. Medical cannabis advocates would do well to take note of the brief public controversy surrounding this photograph. 80% of Americans support medical cannabis, but that does not mean they are comfortable with its use – especially when they see it publicly or in their neighborhood. As the state of California moves closer and closer to full implementation of its medical cannabis laws, neighbors and local representatives are encountering the issue of medical cannabis use in very up close and personal ways – loved ones are getting recommendations, dispensaries are opening nearby, and advertising for medical cannabis is increasingly commonplace. Most Americans have some experience with cannabis use, theirs or a loved one, and not all of those experiences are good. Much of that baggage will come up as we continue to engage this issue in neighborhood councils, City Councils, and other local forums – in California and other medical cannabis states. Advocates for medical cannabis should not underestimate this concern in the neighborhoods as we push for implementation, especially for local regulations for medical cannabis dispensaries. The seeds of a backlash lie in this ambivalence, and the consequences can be severe – even late in the process.
Jan 262009

ASA Weekly Alert 1/23/2009 - Americans for Safe Access

  • January 26, 2009 4:11 AM

1. Days After Obama is sworn in, DEA Exploits Transition; Raids Dispensary


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided a medical cannabis dispensary Thursday in South Lake Tahoe in the first days of the new Obama Administration. Even though President Obama had made repeated promises during his election campaign to end federal interference in medical cannabis states, many high-ranking Bush Administration officials have yet to leave office. For example, still at the helm of the DEA is acting Administrator Michele Leonhart, who has been responsible for numerous federal raids in California, following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Karen Tandy. Neither Eric Holder, President Obama's pick for U.S. Attorney General, nor a new DEA Administrator, have taken office yet.

"We are very concerned about the DEA’s raid on a legal medical cannabis providers during this transitional period in the Department of Justice.  It is no secret that President Obama has made numerous public statements condemning this policy" said Caren Woodson, ASA's Director of Government Affairs. "We are hopeful that Obama will move quickly to, at a minimum, suspend such actions until his Administration has a chance to further look into the matter."

No arrests were made at Holistic Solutions in South Lake Tahoe, though medical cannabis and cash were seized. Since George Bush took office in 2000 Federal agents raided hundreds of sanctioned California dispensaries, as well as the Washington State offices of an advocacy group that was supplying starter plants to authorized patients. In Oregon, DEA used a federal grand jury to try to obtain the private medical records of 17 patients, an effort that was later rejected by a federal court, and even threatened New Mexico state officials with federal prosecution if they moved to implement the state's medical cannabis distribution program.

"I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users," Senator Obama said in an August 2007 statement. "It's not a good use of our resources.". This statement was followed up by Obama in other public events in the run up to the election.

"President Obama must rise to the occasion by suspending all federal interference and by keeping the promise he made to the voters of this country," said Woodson. ASA has been working with the new Administration on changing federal law around medical cannabis, which has included a comprehensive set of policy recommendations.

In another last minute affront to patients, the Bush Administration last week rejected recommendations from its own DEA Administrative Law Judge to expand medical cannabis research, stating it is "in the public interest." The federal government currently prohibits scientists from cultivating cannabis for research, which has a stifling effect on developing the full medical potential of the cannabis plant. "The DEA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) coordinate the obstruction o meaningful research on medical cannabis, and instead prioritize studying its harmful effects," said Woodson. "Obama has the opportunity here to step in and discontinue a policy that hinders the development of a medicine that benefits hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S."


National News

 


2. Montana Seeks to Revoke Rights of Patients who Drive, Allow Nurses to Recommend


Two separate bills are being considered by the Montana Legislature this year, each would move the states medical cannabis law in an opposite direction.

Montana House Bill 73 would revise existing state law to allow physician assistants and nurse practitioners the authority to prescribe medical cannabis. Currently, only physicians are authorized to do so.  The bill's lead sponsor, State Representative Julie French (D-Scobey), framed the issue as one of equality, and one that would help Montanans who live in rural areas and are often only able to see an physicians assistant, rather than a doctor. View the bill here .

However, another bill has also been introduced that would require police to take blood samples from every medical cannabis patient stopped at a traffic encounter.  If the samples show traces of THC above an certain amount, the police would revoke a patients' right to use medical cannabis.  Tom Daubert, president and founder of  Patients and Families United (an ASA Affiliate), addressed the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, saying he supports to goal of reducing impaired driving on public highways but that the bill propsed by Kalispell Republican Sen. Verdell Jackson is offensive and unconstitutionally targets one class of patients.  Opponents also argue that the blood concentration limits of THC set forth in the bill are arbitrarily low and would make it almost impossible for any qualified patient to legally drive.

State Senator Rebecca Sturdevan, a proponent of the measure, said that she acknowledges the medical benefits of cannabis but that she doesn't believe patients should be able to use their needed medicine if they are caught driving after using it.

Montana passed its state law in 2004 with 62% in favor.


3. New Mexico Nurse Sues to Recommend Cannabis


Albuquerque psychiatric nurse practitioner Bryan Krumm has filed suit against the federal government, saying he's afraid he'll be raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration if he recommends medical cannabis, as he's legally entitled to do under New Mexico law .  The DEA has long undermined state medical cannabis laws, using a variety of tactics. In New Mexico, DEA has actually threatened state officials with prosecution if they carry out the laws passed by their state legislature.

Recently, New Mexico's health department finalized rules for non-profit organizations to grow and dispense medical cannabis to qualified patients, becoming the first state in the US to officially permit such establishments at the state level.

Krumm hopes the lawsuit will convince the courts to change the classification of cannabis to recognize its medical value - which federal agencies deny to this day despite 13 states that remove penalties for its use and almost 35 which recognize its medical use in some way (though patients may not be protected).  He said he would recommend cannabis to patients, but hasn't due to fears that the federal agencies such as DEA and DoJ will intervene.  He claims he hasn't been able to follow his ethical responsibilities as a nurse practitioner by referring his patients into the medical cannabis program, because the patients would be in jeopardy of federal charges.


4. Medical Cannabis Protections Proposed in Minnesota, Missouri


In the past week, both the Minnesota and Missouri legislatures introduced attempts to provide basic legal protections for patients who rely on medical cannabis as treatment.

The Minnesota State Senate introduced SF 97,  which would allow qualified patients to possess only 2.5 ounces of cannabis, but they would be required to register with the state.  The Senate passed a similar bill last year that was killed in the State House of Representatives.  The proposed law would allow for state-regulated nonprofits to dispense cannabis, but would also create harsh penalties for patients and nonprofits that dispense cannabis to individuals that aren't included in the state registry.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has said he will veto the bill if its opposed by law enforcement, according to the Minnesota Independent .

This week, Missouri lawmakers introduced a medical cannabis bill for consideration this session as well, joining other Midwestern states and on the heels of Michigan's November initiative, passed by almost 64% of Michigan voters.   Representative Kay Meiners of Kansas City filed House Bill 277.

In November, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to create patient protections, and the 13th state in the US.

To read the Minnesota bill, visit: http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/bills/billinf.php?ls=86
Read the Missouri bill in its entirety here: http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills091/bills/hb277.htm

Jan 192009

CA Weekly Alert 1/19/2009 - Americans for Safe Access

  • January 19, 2009 10:20 AM

1. San Deigo and San Bernardino Appeal ID Cards to US Supreme Court

After three consecutive losses in court, San Diego and San Bernardino Counties sent yet another petition to the US Supreme Court, asking to quit their state-mandated obligation to provide ID cards through their county health departments to legitimate medical cannabis patients, the goal being to protect them from wrongful arrest, and to make the distinction between recreational and medical use easier on police. The original lawsuit filed by the two counties in 2006 asserted that they were under no obligation to abide by California law by providing the ID's, since it differed from federal law.  The case was argued against by ASA's Chief Counsel Joe Elford and struck down once at the trial courts, sent to the Appeals Court and struck down again, and then appealed to the California Supreme Court, which refused to review the case after considering the San Diego and San Bernardino position to be nonsensical.  In every medical cannabis court ruling ever issued, including ones that were generally bad for patients, courts have always asserted that state medical cannabis laws can exist and operate along with federal laws.  And yet the Southern California counties have continued to spend taxpayer dollars to fight this overwhelmingly consistent legal precedent.   Now they've done it again, appealing to the United States Supreme Court for review. ASA has been campaigning to implement the County ID card program since SB 420 was passed by the California Assembly in 2003.  We've seen legal success with the initial suit, success of our chapters in pushing for county implementation, we compelled counties to implement the program by threatening legal action to those who don't comply, and most recently filed suit against Solano County for not doing so.

2. Sacramento Begins Issuing ID Cards

While San Diego and San Bernardino appeal to the US Supreme Court to avoid giving ID cards to patients who need them, Sacramento, a former  hold-out county that has seen the light (due to threats of litigation from ASA) opened the application process for the ID cards on January 12th. Applications are accepted by appointment only with Sacramento County Vital Records. Appointments will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Application forms are available on the Sacramento County Public Health Department's Web site at www.SCPH.com or through the Sacramento County Vital Records office:  7001 East Parkway, Suite 650.  To request an application via mail, call (916) 875-2066.

3. Rosenthal Trial Underway

On Wednesday, renown medical cannabis activist Ed Rosenthal went to Appeals Court for oral arguments in his "reconviction" for charges for which he was originally convicted, and sentenced to one day in prison - time already served, in 2003.   During arguments, Rosenthal's attorneys argued that he was not allowed to present an adequate defense because the judge refused to allow any evidence or hear testimony from individuals that Rosenthal had been deputized by the City of Oakland to grow medical cannabis in compliance with California's medical cannabis laws, and thus was protected from federal prosecution. Since 2000 when George Bush took office, the federal government has been interfering in state medical cannabis laws by arresting and prosecuting individuals who faithfully and legally execute those laws.  During court proceedings federal judges keep the jury from knowing anything about the laws.   The defendant, in this case Rosenthal, is presented to the jury as an ordinary large scale illegal drug dealer - even when elected officials, police, and other administrators and government officials give permission for and sanction the growing of medical cannabis in compliance with the law. Federal agents arrested Rosenthal in 2002, and a federal jury convicted him in 2003 of three counts of marijuana cultivation and conspiracy, though most jurors renounced the verdict upon learning that presiding Judge had disallowed evidence that Rosenthal grew the cannabis as a deputized Oakland official.   The 9th Circuit Court overturned Rosenthal's convictions in April 2006, after discovering that a juror had engaged in misconduct by asking a lawyer friend whether jurors could ignore evidence and vote their conscience ("jury nullification").  Federal prosecutors re-indicted Rosenthal in 2006 on the same charges plus nine more, but the nine charges were dismissed in 2007 after the judge found that prosecutors had engaged in "vindictive prosecution".   Rosenthal was re-convicted on May 30, 2007 despite the fact that could not be punished, as he had already served his sentence for the same charges.   This is the appeal for his second conviction for the same offense.

4. Yucca Valley Council Extends Moratorium

On Thursday, the Yucca Valley Town Council approved extending a 45-day moratorium on new medical cannabis dispensaries or its distribution at existing businesses an extra 10 months and 15 days.  City staff are expected to study the dispensaries and submit their findings to the Planning Commission in February or March, and to have a second reading of a dispensary ordinance ready by June at the latest.  Opposition to dispensaries was vocal at the meetings, and so community members supportive of medical cannabis action should take necessary steps to organize vocal support for the dispensaries.
Jan 122009

Advocates Decry DEA Obstruction to Medical Marijuana Research - Obama Can and Should Regain an Adherence to Scientific Principles - Americans for Safe Access

Only days before President Bush is to leave office, his administration has dealt yet another blow to scientific integrity by refusing to implement the recommendations of DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner and open up the production of cannabis (marijuana) for research purposes. For more than 40 years, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has maintained a monopoly on the cultivation of cannabis for Food & Drug Administration-approved scientific studies. Instead of opening up research on the medical properties of cannabis, the Bush administration has chosen to hide its head in the sand and obstruct the advancement of this important therapeutic substance. In June of 2001, University of Massachusetts at Amherst professor Lyle Craker, an experienced research botanist, applied for a license to cultivate cannabis for FDA-approved studies. After nine days of testimony from many experts and administration officials, Judge Bittner issued a set of recommendations in February 2007, concluding that the current sole-supply of cannabis by NIDA was insufficient for the level of research that cannabis deserves and that expanded research was "in the public interest." After nearly two years of delay, acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart issued a ruling today that refuses to implement Judge Bittner's recommendations. This refusal by Leonhart to adhere to her own DEA Administrative Law Judge is especially disappointing and insensitive in light of strong Congressional support for expanded research and a desire to dismantle the current monopoly on research cannabis production. In 2008, forty-five members of Congress sent a letter to then-DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, urging her to accept Judge Bittner's recommendations and calling the federal monopoly on cannabis production "unjustified." Incoming president Barack Obama has an opportunity to correct this shortsighted position that fails to recognize medical and scientific precedent. Rather than turn a cold shoulder to the reams of scientific studies pointing to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, president-elect Obama has the opportunity to develop a sensible policy with regard to medical cannabis research. In addition, since acting-DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart has shown little capacity for understanding the need for more research into cannabis, Obama should appoint a candidate to head the DEA that can grasp the importance of advancing this important medicinal substance. To be sure, anything less will perpetuate the outdated position of the Bush Administration and deny hundreds of thousands of Americans a medicine that has been shown to be effective at treating innumerable illnesses and the side effects of toxic treatments.
Jul 312008

reason.tv Video Update on Charles Lynch Trial - Americans for Safe Access

  • July 31, 2008 5:28 AM
Last month, reason.tv released a video about Charles Lynch and one of the patients he served before being raided by the DEA. Now that the trial has gotten underway, reason.tv has released a video update on the trial. Check it out: For a first person point of view, take a look at Charles Lynch's blog post about his trial.
Apr 072008

ASA Video Testimonial - 3rd Installment - Americans for Safe Access

  • April 07, 2008 12:11 PM
Welcome to the latest installment of ASA’s video testimonial project. As many of you may remember, the video testimonial project has been designed to help educate people about medical cannabis by having patients and supporters share their stories. This project was also designed to help people like you educate your friends and family about medical cannabis by sharing these videos with your community. Forward this blog to family, friends, and community members and help spread the word about medical cannabis. Also, check back here next Monday for the next installment of the video testimonials. Roy from Marin County, CA Thank you again to Carson Higby-Flowers for volunteering to record, edit, and produce the testimonials. Also, thank you to all of the brave patients, supporters, and advocates who took the time to come in and participate in the video shoot. Check out last week’s installment here.
Mar 312008

ASA Video Testimonial- 2nd Installment - Americans for Safe Access

  • March 31, 2008 11:05 AM
Welcome to the latest installment of ASA's video testimonial project. As many of you may remember, the video testimonial project has been designed to help educate people about medical cannabis by having patients and supporters share their stories. This project was also designed to help people like you educate your friends and family about medical cannabis by sharing these videos with your community. Forward this blog to family, friends, and community members and help spread the word about medical cannabis. Also, check back here next Monday for the next installment of the video testimonials. Richard from Berkeley, CA Thank you again to Carson Higby-Flowers for volunteering to record, edit, and produce the testimonials. Also, thank you to all of the brave patients, supporters, and advocates who took the time to come in and participate in the video shoot. Check out last week's installment featuring three medical cannabis patients here.
Mar 282008

California Weekly Round Up - Americans for Safe Access

  • March 28, 2008 10:38 AM
Senate Health Committee Votes to Move SJR 20 Forward From ASA's Chief of Staff, Rebecca Saltman

The Senate Health Committee showed their commitment to safe access for patients this Wednesday by approving the resolution calling on an end to federal intervention in California and DEA attacks on medical cannabis patients, SJR 20. The 7-4 vote, split down party lines, is an key victory in putting an end to DEA raids in California. The Senate Judiciary Committee will be hearing the resolution next. Their vote will determine whether or not the resolution will move forward to a vote on the Senate floor and then the Assembly floor. Since this is a non-binding resolution, it will not need the Governor's signature. This is a very exciting move forward for medical cannabis patients throughout the state. If passed on the Senate and Assembly floors, this resolution will send a resounding statement nationwide saying to the Federal government that Californians are taking a stand and calling for an end to the attacks! Read more about the hearing on ASA's blog.

SJR 20 is the Senate Joint Resolution that calls for an end to DEA attacks on California’s medical cannabis patients and providers and further calls on the President and Congress to enact federal legislation to end the raids. If passed, this will be the first time in U.S. history that a state legislature has denounced the DEA’s interference in state laws and tactics used against medical cannabis patients and providers. To read more about SJR 20, visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/SJR20 Thank you to those who testified on Wednesday in support of SJR 20, including: Lisa Sawoya, Hollywood Compassionate Collective Yvonne Westbrook-White, patient/advocate (see her video testimonial here: www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/VideoTestimonial) Don Duncan, Americans for Safe Access Aaron Smith, Marijuana Policy Project Dale Gieringer, California NORML

There are several important medical cannabis bills and resolutions being heard by the state Senate and Assembly Committees over the next few weeks. ASA will continue to update our lists as things move forward. If you are not yet signed up for ASA's Forums to receive instant alerts, go to www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/ASAForums

Medical CannabisProvider, Michael Martin, Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges

On Wednesday Tainted Compassionate Medicinals operator, Michael Martin, plead guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to manufacture a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana. Martin now faces up to five years in a federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and several years of supervised release. On September 26, 2007, the DEA raided five locations in Oakland and San Leandro, allegedly confiscating hundreds of edibles and 460 plants, and arresting Jessica Sanders (30), Michael Anderson (42), and Diallo McLinn (35). After a press conference on October 4, Michael Martin (33), who had been on vacation during the raid, voluntarily turned himself in. All four were originally charged with conspiracy to manufacture or distribute controlled substances and are out on bail. Two of the defendants have since had their charges reduced to misdemeanors and Sanders' charge has been reduced as well. Tainted Medicinal Edibles were available for patients as an alternative to smoking at dispensing collectives across the state. The emotional hearing was short and ended with Martin leaving the courtroom and nearly 50 supporters of Martin, his family, and medical cannabis exiting the courtroom all at once. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 2, 2008 at 2:30pm. Read more about the hearing in ASA Chief of Staff, Rebecca Saltzman's, blog, Vanessa Nelson's Article, and Michael Martin's blog on FreeTainted.com Los Angeles Activists and Victims of DEA Raids Rally in Response to Federal Attacks From ASA's California Campaign Director, Don Duncan Sixty medical cannabis patients and advocates protested in front of the DEA offices at the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday in response to last week’s DEA raids in the Los Angeles area. The protesters heard first hand from Virgil Grant, whose collectives and home were raided on Thursday in a coordinated paramilitary-style operation that involved dozens of DEA agents and police officers from Los Angeles, Gardena, and Compton. Before the protest, I joined Virgil Grant, Yami Balonos, Michael Levitt, and Sarah Armstrong at the Los Angeles City Council meeting where we asked that the council to move quickly to re-convene the city working group that is working on regulations for collectives and to oppose the DEA's interference tactics. Council Member Janice Hahn said she would reconvene the working group. California. Next Wednesday, April 2, the council will vote on a resolution endorsing CA Senator Carole Migden’s Senate Joint Resolution 20 calling on the President and US Congress to end the raids. See below in the City and County Hearings section for more details. Thanks to everyone who came out to support Virgil and his family! Watch the Fox 29 coverage of the rally and hearing. Patients File Against Mendocino County's Ballot Initiative Measure B Mendocino County Attorney, Edie Lerman, filed a lawsuit on behalf of medical cannabis patients Paula A. Laguna and George Hanamoto challenging the legality of ballot initiative Measure B. This Mendocino County initiative calls for a stricter cultivation limits for medical cannabis patients than the California state limit and a repeal of the 2000 initiative Measure G, further limiting the number of plants a medical cannabis patient can have Measure G decriminalized personal use of cannabis, with the intent to create safer access for medical cannabis patients. Measure G Also Allowed patients to cultivate up to 25 plants for personal use. The lawsuit filed on Wednesday states that Measure B cannot be a ballot initiative because there are two distinct components to the bill: the repeal of Measure G and limiting the plant limits for medical cannabis patients. California's state constitution forbids initiatives from containting more than one subject.