Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Dec 222016

Obama, Instruct the DEA to Tell the Truth About Cannabis - Americans for Safe Access

Obama graphic Did you know that it is illegal for federal agencies to distribute false information?  Well it is, and the DEA has been doing just that with information regarding medical cannabis.  So, last week, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), represented by the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, filed a petition with the Department of Justice (DOJ) demanding that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) immediately update misinformation about cannabis.

But we didn’t stop there…

Dec 152016

New Program Launched to Educate Doctors and Patients on Medical Cannabis - Americans for Safe Access

courseunits.pngToday, ASA and TheAnswerPage, an international resource for providing accredited continuing medical education since 1998, launched the Cannabis Care Certification (CCC) program. CCC is an online program designed to provide quality information about medical cannabis to individuals who are starting or considering cannabis therapy, and healthcare professionals looking to learn about the endocannabinoid system and medical cannabis.

The program includes educational videos created for patients and caregivers to provide guidance for anyone interested in exploring medical cannabis as well offers courses that provide Continuing Medical Education credits to medical professionals.

Dec 132016

HealthCanada Recommends Keeping Medical and Adult-use Cannabis Programs Separate - Americans for Safe Access

Today, HealthCanada issued a report with several recommendations for how the country can implement an adult-use (recreational) cannabis program. One of the recommendations is that Canada should maintain a separate program for medical cannabis patients rather than merge the medical program into the adult-use program. This recommendation is in step with ASA's recommendations to states when considering adult-use cannabis programs.

The HealthCanada report recognizes that patients often seek difference forms cannabis and cannabis-derived products than what the typical adult-use consumer seeks to purchase. Maintaining a separately regulated system for medical cannabis patients is the best way that governments can ensure that patient needs are addressed in jurisdictions with medical and adult-use access. Washington State has experimented with merging its medical program into the I-502 adult-use program, which has led to reports of patients no longer have quality and consistent access to medical cannabis products.

Dec 122016

House Votes to Extend Rohrabacher-Farr Through April, Senate to Vote Next - Americans for Safe Access

On Friday, the U.S. Senate  approved H.R. 2028, a continuing resolution that will fund the federal government through April 28, 2017. The House approved the bill earlier on Thursday. The continuing resolution includes the Rohrabacher-Farr language from last year's Department of Justice's spending package, thereby keeping the protection in place for another four months before Congress must consider it again.

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment is arguably the most important current federal protection for medical cannabis patients and others abiding by state medical cannabis laws. The amendment has been upheld in several federal cases, most prominently in U.S. vs. McIntosh. In that decision, the judge held that prosecutions against those claiming to be in compliance with state medical cannabis laws cannot proceed unless the federal government could prove there was a violation of state law. However, the judge also said that the protection only is valid if the amendment remains in effect. 

Dec 082016

ASA Releases Federal Medical Cannabis Policy Roadmap - Americans for Safe Access

The cover image of the briefing book.Today, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) released a briefing book —“Medical Cannabis in America”— calling on Congress and the Administration to end the conflict between the federal government and States’ with medical cannabis (marijuana) programs. The report includes actions for the POTUS during the lame duck as well as the incoming Congress and POTUS. These actions would protect the more than 2 million medical cannabis patients in the U.S. by allowing local manufacturers, growers, and distributors to operate in accordance with their own state’s laws regarding medical cannabis without fear of federal interference.



Dec 052016

Americans for Safe Access’ Members Challenge DEA Misinformation on Cannabis - Americans for Safe Access

A picture of the cover of the IQA petition.Today, Americans for Safe Access, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research, filed a petition with the Department of Justice (DOJ) demanding that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) immediately update misinformation about cannabis. The petition is being filed under the rules of the Information Quality Act (IQA, aka Data Quality Act), which requires administrative agencies to devise guidelines that ensure the “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information” they distribute and to “[e]stablish administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the guidelines.”

Dec 012016

NFL Player Seantrel Henderson Suspended for Treating Crohn's with Cannabis - Americans for Safe Access

football_cropped.pngThis week, the Buffalo Bills announced that left tackle Seantrel Henderson had been suspended for 10 games for violating the National Football League's substance abuse policy. Henderson has come out publicly to say that he has been using cannabis to treat his Crohn's disease. However, the league does not make any exceptions for medical cannabis use and Henderson was given his second suspension of the season for cannabis use. If he is caught violating the substance abuse rules one more time, he will be banned for life.

Stories about Henderson's suspension and the relief he has found through cannabis do not say if he is a registered patient in the New York or any other state medical cannabis program. It's somewhat unclear as to whether Henderson could get a recommendation in New York. While the state recognizes irritable bowel syndrome as a qualifying condition, Crohn's disease in a separate condition that affects the digestive system. If Henderson is a patient, New York's anti-discrimination provision should prevent punitive action taken against him unless he was found impaired by cannabis at the workplace. Sadly, job discrimination is not uncommon for medical cannabis patients to face. 

Nov 302016

Obama Can’t Reschedule Cannabis Before He Leaves…But Can Start the Process Internationally - Americans for Safe Access

Cannabis is currently classified as Schedule I and IV of the United Nations (UN) Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 as amended by the 1972 Protocol (the “Single Convention”). This scheduling was determined based on a report created by the Health Committee of the League of Nations in 1935. The UN General Assembly must have a recommendation from the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to change the Scheduling of cannabis. The CND makes decisions on Scheduling of substances based on recommendations from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD).

To date, the ECDD has not conducted an updated review on cannabis despite an increasing number of countries adopting medical cannabis policies. The CND in its Resolution 52/5 from 2009 requested an updated review by the ECDD and in 2013 the International Narcotics Control Board, in its annual report, invited WHO, in view of its mandate under the 1961 Convention, to evaluate “the potential medical utility of cannabis and the extent to which cannabis poses dangers to human health.”

For this reason, at ASA’s International Conference on Harmonization of Global Cannabis Policy March 18-23, 2016 in Washington DC, participants peer-reviewed Cannabis and Cannabis Resin Critical Review Preparation Document: This important paper was created by an international whos who of cannabis experts including  Jahan Marcu Ph.D., Tjaling Erkelens, Maria de los Angeles Lobos, Ph.D., Ethan Russo, MD, Roy Upton, Mahmoud Elsohly, Ph.D., Pavel Kubu, MD, Ethan Russo, MD, Pavel Patcha, Jason Schechter, Ph.D., and Phil Robson, Ph.D. to name a few.

Nov 292016

PFC Review Board Member, Jim Tozzi’s Role in Stopping the DEA from Classifying Drug in Schedule 1 Status - Americans for Safe Access

Until a few months ago, few people in the US had ever heard of kratom, a tropical evergreen tree in the coffee family has been known to be used for medicinal purposes. That was until the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) tried place kratom in Schedule I of the controlled substances list through an emergency process. This action brought criticism from thousands of people including Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Corey Booker. While kratom does possess opiate-like qualities, it also has been shown to treat opioid addiction and mitigate symptoms of pain, diarrhea, depression, and anxiety.    

However, it looked like the fate of the medicinal herb was sealed until the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE) got involved. Jim Tozzi, head of the CRE, author of the Data Quality Act (DQA, also known as the Information Quality Act), and PFC Review Board member  remarked on CRE’s involvement “when 100,000 members of the public express outrage with a regulatory decision, it deserves a second look.”

Nov 182016

Trump’s AG Pick: “Good people don't smoke marijuana" - Americans for Safe Access

sessions.jpgPresident-Elect Donald Trump announced today that he has nominated Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be the next US Attorney General. If approved by the Senate, Sessions would wield broad authority over federal drug law priorities and enforcement nationwide. What does that mean for medical cannabis in the US?

It could be really bad news... if we don’t fight back!