Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Jun 022011

AG Holder: DOJ is Working to “Clarify” Federal Position on Medical Marijuana - Americans for Safe Access



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At a press conference earlier today in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was peppered with questions about medical marijuana. This is understandable, given that a month ago U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha sent a letter to Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee and other state officials threatening:
[C]ivil or criminal remedies against those individuals and entities who set up marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries.

Holder responded that the White House policy outlined in the Ogden memo, which de-emphasized federal interference, “made sense given…the limited resources that we have.” Addressing the obvious discord between policy and practice, Holder said he was working in Rhode Island and other parts of the country to “clarify what this policy means and how the policy can be implemented.”

Holder further stated that:
What we have to do is try to effectuate that policy in a way that we give comfort to somebody who is using it appropriately.

Patient advocates are pleased that Holder wants to clarify this glaring contradiction in Justice Department policy. Rhode Island was not the only state to endure threats from U.S. Attorneys. The Justice Department sent letters to local and state officials in at least 10 different states. These letters and the ongoing federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids occurring across the country have had a devastating impact on patients’ rights and safe access. Programs have been suspended not only in Rhode Island, but in Arizona and New Jersey as well. State and local laws were arguably curtailed by federal interference in California, Montana and Washington.

Holder did say that he wants the process of clarifying federal policy to involve “dialog” and “communication.” We certainly hope he includes patients -- the ones directly affected by these policies -- in the dialog. But, we’re not waiting for his invitation so stay tuned for ways to make your voice heard.
Jun 022011

Vermont Joins List of States Licensing Safe Access to Medical Marijuana - Americans for Safe Access



Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill today that would license multiple medical cannabis distribution facilities in Vermont. Patients and advocates wildly applauded the governor’s action for two main reasons:

  1. It recognizes the need for patients to have health care options, including the ability to safely and legally obtain their medication; and

  2. It defies recent attempts by the federal government to harass and intimidate public officials to prevent them from properly addressing patients’ needs.

Senate Bill 17 will authorizes the establishment of four licensed dispensaries in order to bring safe and legal access to medical marijuana for the state’s patient population. Last month, the Vermont House voted 99-44 to pass S. 17, despite a letter from U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin threatening possible legal action against the state. In Coffin’s letter, he warned what might happen if S. 17 were to pass:
[T]he [DOJ] will carefully consider legal remedies against those who facilitate or operate marijuana dispensaries or marijuana distribution or production as contemplated by S. 17, should that measure become law.

We need more elected officials like those in Vermont, who won’t buckle to federal bullying and who are willing to stand up for the health and welfare of patients. Notably, Delaware took similarly decisive action last month, when it passed the 16th state medical marijuana law, which includes provisions for production and distribution.

However, this type of leadership is far too rare today. We can’t give elected officials any reason to controvert science and the will of the people. We must hold them accountable at the same time as commending Shumlin and others who are willing to take a stand for patients.
Jun 012011

Oppose SB 847 - Don't choke off safe access in CA! - Americans for Safe Access

[caption id="attachment_1513" align="alignnone" width="247" caption="CA Senator Lou Correa"]
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UPDATE: The CA Senate approved SB 847 on June 1. Now we must work to stop the bill in the Assembly!

The California Senate will vote soon on a bill that will make it much more difficult to establish a legal medical cannabis patients’ cooperative or collective. Senator Lou Correa’s (D-Santa Ana) SB 847 will require that all cooperatives and collectives be located at least 600 feet from residential zones or use – effectively excluding vast portions of most California cities. This would be on top of the existing requirement that facilities be located 600 feet from schools.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is calling on medical cannabis patients and supporters to oppose SB 847 today. ASA's Online Action Center makes it easy to find your Senator and send a message right now.



SB 847 is burdensome. It is already hard enough for patients to organize and operate legal cooperatives and collectives. This new rule may make it almost impossible in some cities. Most medical cannabis patients rely on cooperatives and collectives for access to medicine, so onerous restrictions like this serve to choke off safe access. That is not what voters intended when they approved Proposition 215 calling on lawmakers “to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana.”

SB 847 is unnecessary. Research conducted by ASA and more than fifteen years of experience with medical cannabis in California have taught us that sensible local regulations reduce crime and complaints. We do not need to usurp local control on medical cannabis. Instead, legislators should be cooperating with local government and other stake holders to adopt state laws that facilitate safe, reliable, and legal access to medicine.

Email your California Senator today and ask him or her to vote no on SB 847.

Thank you for helping!
May 272011

40,000 Signatures in Less than 30 Days; Referendum on City Council’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance Enters Signature Verification Process - Americans for Safe Access

40,000 Signatures in Less than 30 Days; Referendum on City Council’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance Enters Signature Verification Process


Eugene Davidovich, May 26, 2011

In April of this year, the San Diego City Council passed an ordinance that effectively denied safe access to thousands of patients in the city. If left as is, it would have negatively impacted the most vulnerable members of our community by cutting off access to their medicine.



As the ordinance is written, all locations where patients currently safely obtain their medicine, would be forced to shutter their doors and only a small handful would be allowed to open in far flung industrial areas of the City, only after coming into compliance with an onerous year-long conditional use permit process.

The City Council rather than considering amendments to the ordinance suggested by their own medical marijuana task force and thousands of concerned citizens who wrote letters as part of the City’s largest letter writing campaign, on April 12 approved the restrictions and ignored the unprecedented public opposition.

After the City Council’s ordinance took effect at the end of April and with only 30 days to circulate a petition to repeal the ordinance, a group of collective directors quickly organized and formed the Patient Care Association and Citizens for Patient Rights Political Action Committee. Comprised of over 50 local medical marijuana collectives, the association within days raised enough funds to hire the La Jolla Group, a professional signature gathering company, and undertook a massive effort to gather enough signatures to repeal the ordinance through a referendum process.

San Diego Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the local chapter of the nation’s largest medical marijuana patients’ rights advocacy group, provided the association with direction and guidance on messaging as well as an alternative ordinance to propose to voters following the referendum. At the same time ASA’s legal department began to gear up for a lawsuit with the city and on April 28, sent a letter to the City urging them to ease up their restriction or face a challenge in court.

As announced by San Diego ASA on May 4th, the referendum signature drive was underway and in less than 30 days, the La Jolla Group as well as all the collectives involved, gathered over 40,000 signatures, proving yet again the medical marijuana community in San Diego to be a serious political force.

The signatures are expected to be turned in to the City Clerk’s office on Friday, May 26 and will effectively place on hold the overly restrictive ordinance passed by the council from becoming law in the City.

Once the Clerk’s office turns the signatures over to the County’s Registrar of Voters, the verification process will begin and as required by law must be completed within 30 days. If the registrar confirms there are enough valid signatures, the Council will be forced to make a decision; place their overly restrictive ordinance on the ballot for a vote of the people or repeal it at the next available council meeting.

If the City forces the referendum to a vote and decides against repealing the ordinance, depending on the date the signatures are determined valid by the Registrar of Voters, the City may have to call a special election costing millions, or instead place the ordinance on the June 2012 primary ballot for a vote.

As for the effort currently underway by Code Enforcement to shut the existing facilities down, according to the City Attorney’s office, the status quo will be maintained. Landlords will continue to be harassed, patients will continue to face threats of lawsuits and intimidation, and they City Attorney plans on continuing to wage their war on patients. Their official position remains unchanged; the facilities currently operating would still be doing so without a valid business license and with no zoning in the City’s municipal code to allow for their use.

The voting residents of San Diego overwhelmingly support safe and reliable access to medical cannabis for qualified patients in their neighborhood and are against the restrictions approved by the council as well as the effort to shut the existing facilities down. The San Diego community hopes the council will move forward with adopting the recommendations of the Medical Marijuana Task Force and amend the overly restrictive ordinance.

If the City refuses to respect the recommendations of their own task force and continues on the path to shut access down without providing a reasonable alternative, they will face continued litigation and the medical marijuana community plans on quickly moving forward with a voter initiative which would once and for all, create reasonable rules and clarity for patients in the City to follow.

Further Information:

For more information about the Citizens for Patient Rights PAC visit: www.citizens4patientrights.org

SD ASA’s May 4 Announcement about Referendum: http://www.safeaccesssd.org/2011/05/patient-care-association-of-california.html

ASA threatens to sue City of San Diego: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/San_Diego_Demand_Letter.pdf

City Council Medical Marijuana Ordinance: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/City_of_San_Diego_Ordinance.pdf

For the latest information on medical marijuana in San Diego visit: www.safeaccesssd.org
May 252011

Welcome to ASA 3.0 - 3 new bills in Congress, 3 new programs at ASA - Americans for Safe Access



Here at ASA we are fighting hard for patients’ rights, and this year we’re taking a whole new approach. We’re calling it ASA 3.0. We’ve been holding stakeholders’ meetings across the nation, and we designed this approach based on what you – local activists and patients – want and need.

We’ve developed a plan for improving safe access across the nation, but we need your help to make it happen. Can you commit just $1 a day to ASA’s important work? When you give to ASA, you are giving back to yourself because we build our strategies based on your needs.



We know you want to see change on the federal level, so we have been working diligently on the Hill. Today, we got results: Three new bills were introduced in the House of Representatives that would protect patients and providers. Ask your representative to sign on as a sponsor to these bills. It only takes a minute to make the call, and the impact you make is much more powerful than even the best-paying lobbyists.

The federal legislation is just the beginning. You asked for help with local and state legislation, so we created a Medical Cannabis Think Tank and Policy Shop. While state medical cannabis laws vary tremendously, the needs of patients remain consistent across the nation. Many regulations look good on paper, but their impact can be detrimental to the patients they seek to help. ASA’s Think Tank and Policy Shop provides local activists the support they need to analyze pending legislation and lobby for the best law possible.

You asked for support in developing your grassroots community, so we created the Online Training Center. If we are going to keep the safe access we have now and build on it, we will need fight at every level of the political spectrum. With over 4 ½  hours of video content and over 400 pages of instruction manuals and worksheets, the Online Training Center gives patients and patient advocates the tools they need to accomplish their goals.

Of course, state law provides little protection from the federal government. That’s why we’re vamping up our response to federal interference. We’re taking ASA’s proven raid response trainings across the nation and have released our new and improved our Raid Response Center to better prepare for interference across the country. (If you haven’t already, be sure you’re signed up for our Raid Alert Text Messages.)

Since federal interference is rooted in cannabis’ listing as a Schedule I drug, we continue to fight to remove cannabis from that list. This time, we’re taking the issue to the courts. ASA, as part of the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis, recently filed a lawsuit for the DEA’s unreasonable delay in responding to a rescheduling petition we submitted in 2002. Yes, it has been nine years, and the DEA has neglected to respond. Not only should this lawsuit force the DEA to respond to the petition, but it will provide the opportunity for us to highlight the disconnect between the federal government’s policies and science.

We’re excited about ASA 3.0, but we can’t do it alone. For just $1 a day, you can move ASA forward. That’s less than a cup of coffee – and that cup of coffee isn’t going to fight for your rights.

Commit to the movement. Commit $1 a day to ASA. See the results.

It’s coming … ASA’s new mobile application




 

Allowing you to stay in the know on the go
May 242011

Support SB 129 Today! - Americans for Safe Access



The California Senate will vote this week on a bill to protect responsible law-abiding medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) needs your help today to be sure that AB 129 is approved. 

Take a moment right now to call your California Senator and ask him or her to support SB 129!


ASA is sponsoring Senator Mark Leno’s (D-SF) SB 129 to protect legal patients who face workplace discrimination just because they use medical cannabis.  It is not fair that legal patients can be denied a job, be fired, or live in fear every day. SB 129 will stop this discrimination – but only if your Senator knows it is important to you.

SB 129 is a reasonable bill. It does not allow patients to use medical cannabis at work or be impaired by medical cannabis in the workplace. It contains an exemption for safety-sensitive positions. SB 129 simply gives legal medical cannabis patients the same protection as prescription drug users. That is not too much to ask!

Call your California Senator today and ask him or her to support SB 129. ASA’s Online Action Center makes it easy to find your Senator… and we even have a sample script for your phone call.

Your call will only take a minute, but it makes a big difference. Senators need to hear from medical cannabis patients and supporters right now – before they vote on SB 129. I’ll be in Sacramento this week working on the last few votes we need in the Senate, but lawmakers need to know there is an active constituency behind this bill. Make that call today!

Thank you for helping ASA protect and expand patients’ rights in California.
May 242011

Bonnie Dumanis Continues War on Collective Cultivation in San Diego - Americans for Safe Access








Benjamin Gasper
Cultivation charges re-filed against legitimate medical marijuana patient after being previously dismissed in the same courthouse by different Judge.

By: Terrie Best and Eugene Davidovich - San Diego Americans for Safe Access

SAN DIEGO – In the summer of 2009, Benjamin Gasper, along with two other seriously ill medical marijuana patients rented a warehouse space in the Sports Arena area of San Diego in a heavily commercial district far from residences and other “sensitive uses,” and began to collectively cultivate medical marijuana there, for their own personal medical needs.



In fact, all three members of the collective, as court documents have shown, signed an agreement which stated, “As qualified medical marijuana patients under California law, we choose to associate collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes. All members of our medical marijuana collective will contribute labor, funds, or materials, and all will receive medicine.”

In November of 2009, several policemen entered the premises to conduct a “safety check”; according to the officers, they believed a burglary might have been in progress as the front warehouse roll up gate was slightly ajar. After over thirty minutes of searching, they happened on the entrance to the cultivation room which was completely isolated and sealed off from the main part of the warehouse.

After discovering and rummaging through the patient garden, even though the collective agreement, doctor’s statements and ID’s for all the members of the collective were present on site, they still arrested and charged Mr. Gasper with cultivation of marijuana.

In later court proceedings both members of the collective would testify on the stand they had signed the agreement and all actively contributed their labor, and money to the effort from the beginning all the way until the day of the raid.

Having gone through months of court proceedings and multiple hearings, Mr. Gasper’s charges were finally thrown out by a judge at 995 hearing in June of 2010.

Bonnie Dumanis the San Diego District Attorney (DA) however, did not give up persecuting Mr. Gasper. In line with her ‘fierce fight’ against patients and her commitment to waste precious law enforcement resources on investigating and prosecuting these cases; the charges were refilled and an entirely new case started.

Many thought that if the charges had been previously resolved in another case, re-filing the same charges would be ‘double jeopardy.’ This is unfortunately not the case. Through a technicality in the law, the prosecution circumvented the ‘double jeopardy’ clause, and filed the same charges against Mr. Gasper this time hoping for a different judge and a better outcome.

On Wednesday, May 18, Mr. Gasper was in court again, this time, for his second preliminary hearing this time in front of the Honorable William H. Kronberger.

Representing Mr. Gasper in his second case was defense attorney and San Diego Americans for Safe Access board member Melissa Bobrow. For Dumanis’ office, hand-picked by Bonnie Dumanis herself to oversee the prosecution in this case as well as all other medical marijuana cases in San Diego County, was veteran ‘chief patient prosecutor’ Steve Walter.

In describing how Mr. Gasper was identified to be arrested in 2009, at the hearing on Wednesday, the cross-deputized SDPD Detective/Federal Agent, John Joseph Tangredi testified that he and Skylar Voyce, another NTF agent on the scene, found Mr. Gasper’s contact information posted neatly on the wall, so they simply dialed him up, told him his place had been raided and arrested him on the spot as soon as he arrived a few minutes after their call. Tangredi went on to testify that only later did they obtain a search warrant for the premises via telephone.

The detective claimed they discovered “134 cannabis plants in various stages of development”, even though court qualified expert witness William J. Britt at the preliminary hearing in the first case had examined the plants and determined otherwise. At the first preliminary hearing, Mr. Britt testified that the majority of the plants discovered during the search were either dead branches the detectives seemed to have counted as individual plants, or un-rooted cuttings that had recently been planted and were preserved for a future harvest.

Mr. Britt also determined that the amount of actual usable medicine (plants, dried flowers, etc.) was absolutely reasonable for the collective to have, based on the patients’ individual conditions and size of the effort compared with other similar collectives across the state.

At Wednesday’s hearing the detectives true intentions and bias began to surface when Tangretti testified that he believed Gasper’s grow itself to be indicia of sales even though when cross examined by Ms. Bobrow he admitted to finding no scale, packaging, pay and owe sheets or any other materials indicia of sales.

Tangredi further testified that in his ‘expert’ opinion, backed up by his claims of a meager 1.5 hours of training, the 134 plants (mostly dead branches) would have yielded a whopping 150 pounds of dried flower had they been allowed to mature.

The defense’s expert witness, William Britt again testified that the amount was completely reasonable and would more likely have yielded five pounds of dried flowers at most. Compared with Detective Tangredi’s 1.5 hours, Mr. Britt’s training includes hundreds of hours of both in-class and hands on training in medical cannabis yields, dosages, cultivation techniques, and use of medical cannabis by qualified patients.

DA Walter’s cross examination of Mr. Britt was focused on the absence of a defined dosage amount on Mr. Gasper’s recommendation. Mr. Britt explained the lack of scientific data and the illegality of writing prescriptions for specific dosages as the primary reason why no amount was specified.

Also testifying for the defense at Wednesday’s hearing was one of the other members of Mr. Gasper’s collective. Prior to his testimony, in a thoughtful move, the Judge ordered an attorney be assigned to advise the witness of his rights and be on hand during Walter’s cross examination to specifically represent the patient. Walter’s cross examination of the collective member included a barrage of questions about what the patient’s specific task were in the cultivation effort along with personal questions into the patient’s medical condition.

In the end, even though there was overwhelming evidence of clear and unambiguous compliance with State law, Mr. Gasper second case was bound over for trial with the judge explaining that inasmuch as the 134 plants seemed to be above the safe harbor amount allowed, he would have required a physician to take the stand and testify to medical necessity in order to consider the charges for dismissal.

The Judge conceded however, that due to the lack of scientific research on recommended dosages, the law was difficult to understand even for him.

Adapting well, Ms. Bobrow, highlighted in her arguments that navigating this law for Mr. Gaper has been arduous as well and that aside from the many other reasons why this case should be thrown out of court, on the vagueness of the law alone the case should be dismissed.

The Judge disagreed and cited a lack of precedent in these sorts of cases as his reason. He sent Mr. Gasper on to face trial and set the issue for the jury to determine.

Following Wednesday’s hearing, attorney Melissa Bobrow said, “Although Judge Kronberger did come to reasonable conclusion based on the lack of precedent, it is unfair for legitimate patients and caregivers trying to follow the law to be dragged through the criminal courts. The DA’s office should provide clarity on the law through a guideline rather than through continuing to expand resources on cases like this, which should have never been pursued in the first place”.

Medical cannabis patients in San Diego continue to be in a situation where the only way for them to prove they were following the law, is to be dragged through criminal court proceedings and trials that ruin lives and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mr. Gasper remains free on his ‘own recognizance’ and will be arraigned on June 2nd. At 1:30 in Department 11 of the San Diego Superior Courthouse.

For more information please email: sandiegoasa@gmail.com
May 202011

ASA on DOJ Pressure in the Huffington Post - Americans for Safe Access



From ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer in today's Huffington Post -
In February, Oakland City Attorney John Russo asked the Obama Justice Department whether his city's plan to regulate large-scale medical marijuana cultivation would get the approval of the federal government. As expected, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag responded to Russo with a declarative "No!" Little did patient advocates realize, though, that Haag's letter would begin a trend resulting in similar U.S. Attorney letters sent to local and state officials in at least 9 different medical marijuana states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Read the entire post online.
May 192011

Urge Governors to Stand Up for Patient Rights - Americans for Safe Access

[caption id="attachment_1472" align="alignnone" width="252" caption="US AG Holder: Rattling Sabers"]
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In the past few months, United States Attorneys General in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont  have issued letters threatening federal action against any entity, including state employees, participating in state sanctioned medical cannabis programs.  While our community has seen these types of letters under previous administrations, it is disappointing to see President Obama sanction this behavior.



While many promises have been made by Obama to end raids on the medical cannabis community, these DOJ threat letters are yet another tactic of the federal government to interfere with patients’ right to safe access.  ASA recently issued Obama’s Medical Cannabis Report Card, showing he has failed at improving conditions for our community.  These threat letters are further evidence of the broken promises of the current administration and proof  that our community is under attack. 

Over the next couple of weeks, our community must call upon our state representatives for leadership.  We must urge our governors, whether they have received a threat letter or not, to join Americans for Safe Access in a push back against the U.S. Attorneys who have issued these threat letters against our community. 

In order to make this campaign a success, your governors needs to hear from you.  As a constituent, ask for his or her leadership against federal interference.  Call your governor today and use the following script.  Please find contact information for your governor below.  The District of Columbia should reach out to Mayor Gray whose number is listed below, and also included in the electronic action alert. 

Governor (or Mayor for DC Residents)—

As a concerned medical cannabis community member and your constituent, I am worried about the impact these threat letters from the Department of Justice and the potential for federal interference will have on safe access to medical cannabis in my state.  Letters have been issued to eight states so far, and we need to send a message asserting our state’s right to safe access. We need you the lead the charge to end federal interference and work toward creating policies that will resolve the federal conflict once and for all.

Thank you.


You may also participate in our online action alert by clicking here to ask your governor and congressional leaders to take a stand for safe access.

REPRESENTATIVE CONTACT INFORMATION

ALASKA
Governor Sean Parnell
Tel: (907) 465-3500

ARIZONA
Governor Jan Brewer
Tel:(602)542-4331

CALIFORNIA
Governor Jerry Brown
Tel:(916)445-2841

COLORADO
Governor John Hickenlooper
Tel:(303)866-2471

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Mayor Vincent Gray
Tel:(202)727-2980

DELAWARE
Governor Jack Markell
Tel:(302)577-3210

HAWAII
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Tel:(808)586-0034

MAINE
Governor Paul LePage
Tel:(207)287-3531

MARYLAND
Governor Marin O'Malley
Tel:(410) 974-3901

MICHIGAN
Governor Rick Snyder
Tel:(517)373-7858

MONTANA
Governor Brian Schweitzer
Tel:(406)444-3111
May 162011

Advocates welcome Delaware as the 16th medical marijuana state, but decry its prohibition on patient cultivation - Americans for Safe Access



Patient advocates welcomed Delaware’s adoption late last week of the 16th medical marijuana state law. However, its prohibition on patient cultivation fails to adequately provide for the needs of patients. Advocates argue that restrictive laws like Delaware’s placate law enforcement and opponents of medical marijuana at the expense of patients’ rights and dignity.

SB 17, which goes into effect July 1st of this year, would apply to patients with an array of medical conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, severe nausea, wasting syndrome, severe, debilitating pain, that “has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures for more than three months or for which other treatment options produced serious side,” and seizures, or “severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.

The law sensibly provides for regulated nonprofit medical marijuana production and distribution sites, one location in each of the state’s three counties. Certainly, we’ve come far enough from the passage of the 1996 Compassionate Use Act in California -- the first state medical marijuana law -- to know that the vast majority of patients need a pharmacy-like option that is safe and accessible. However, at the same time, this cannot be patients’ only option.

Until 2010, with the passage of New Jersey’s law, all 13 previous medical marijuana state laws recognized and protected patient cultivation. The people and legislators of these states realized the importance of patient cultivation, which is why they made such an option the primary focus of their laws. We must understand that not all patients have mobility or access to transportation. Not all patients want to risk frequenting a known establishment that is considered illegal under federal law. Some patients want to maintain their privacy and not be subjected to intense video surveillance commonly used at distribution facilities.

Then, there’s the federal government. While Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and other groups are mobilizing people to change federal law, the government remains hostile to large-scale production and distribution, whether it’s state licensed or not. Letters sent by U.S. Attorneys to local and state officials in at least 9 medical marijuana states underscores that hostility and intolerance. In fact, letters sent to public official in Montana, Rhode Island, and Washington have either derailed or suspended plans to implement a state distribution licensing system.

While the law allows for the possession of up to 6 ounces per patient -- more liberal than most other medical marijuana states -- there are plenty of patient-unfriendly provisions to be alarmed about. For example, the requirement of a “bona fide physician-patient relationship” rules out physicians who specialize in medical marijuana and will make it much more difficult for patients to find a doctor willing to provide them with a recommendation. Most physicians remain concerned about repercussions by the federal government, despite their protection under the First Amendment, and refuse to issue recommendations.

A further restriction came at the last minute when the Delaware Senate removed glaucoma, Crohn’s disease and early stages of hepatitis C from the list of conditions that would qualify. This was done at the behest of Delaware physicians who apparently thought that sufficient evidence of medical efficacy didn’t exist to warrant providing this option -- and protection under the law -- to possibly hundreds of patients.  Finally, just to stick it to those patients who are poor enough to live in public housing -- or for other reasons cannot consume their medical marijuana at home -- the law imposes criminal sanctions for smoking “in any public place.”

We agree with the Marijuana Policy Project when it says that Delaware’s new law is “the most…tightly-written medical marijuana bill in the country.” However, that’s not necessarily anything to brag about. We also beg to differ that it’s “the most comprehensive” state law. If you look at the law from a patient’s perspective -- something that politicians and “industry”-motivated advocates rarely do these days -- you’ll find that Delware’s law is far from comprehensive.