Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Nov 222010

Leonhart Gets a Pass - Americans for Safe Access

  • November 22, 2010 5:46 AM
On Wednesday, November 17, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened for the nomination hearing of Michele Leonhart for the position of Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). In preparation, ASA had submitted questions for the committee members to ask Ms. Leonhart, hoping that she would finally be taken to task for ignoring statements issued by the President, Attorney General, and Assistant Attorney General regarding ceasing raids on medical marijuana dispensaries. As both Deputy Administrator and Administrator, Ms. Leonhart has been behind an extremely large number of these paramilitary type raids on dispensaries, and ASA implored committee members to ask her why these raids were continuing, why she was continuing to prosecute those who were "in clear and unambiguous compliance with state law." Instead, Ms. Leonhart was praised for her work. Senators Franken and Klobuchar were both proud to claim the native Minnesotan as one of their own and Senator Feinstein was pleased to note that Ms. Leonhart and her family currently reside in California. The only real questioning on marijuana came that afternoon from Senator Jeff Sessions of Georgia (seemingly the only Republican Senator present and definitely the only one who asked any questions of Ms. Leonhart), and that was in regard to legalization. Senator Sessions believes legalizing is dangerous and the wrong thing to do and praised Ms. Leonhart agreed with him. This led to Ms. Leonhart's only comment of the day that was truly pertinent to medical marijuana when she said that she and the DEA would continue to enforce federal drug laws regardless of state law. It looks like we can expect more of the same old from the DEA in the near future.
Nov 152010

Call the Senate Judiciary Committee Today! - Americans for Safe Access

  • November 15, 2010 3:20 AM
The elections are over and it's time to get back to work! Michele Leonhart, President Obama's nominee to head the Drug Enforcement Administration, is scheduled to be confirmed by the US Senate Judiciary Committee the afternoon of Wednesday, November 17. As the deputy director of the DEA, Ms. Leonhart supervised an unprecedented level of   raids on medical marijuana dispensaries designed to undermine safe access and the implementation of state medical marijuana programs. Take Action Now! Demand Senators Ask the DEA Nominee Some Tough Questions! In October of 2009, the Obama Administration issued a memorandum to U.S. Attorneys discouraging the use of federal resources to prosecute individuals who are in "clear and unambiguous compliance" with their state compassionate use laws. Since then, ASA has tracked more than 30 federal enforcement raids in California, Colorado, Hawaii, and Nevada. Despite these tactics, more states are adopting regulations to authorize safe access to marijuana for medical purposes. Negotiating the growing divide between state and federal medical marijuana laws will be among the toughest domestic policy challenges facing the next DEA Administrator. The DEA should do more to reconcile the conflict between state and federal laws, but ASA questions whether Ms. Leonhart possesses the leadership necessary to facilitate this change. Tell Senators that More Must be Done to Resolve the Conflict ASA is leading the call for compassionate and responsible leadership at the highest levels of government and we need your help. Call Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee and tell them to examine Ms. Leonhart's record closely. Urge them to use the hearing to determine whether Ms. Leonhart is committed to working with Congress and state officials to develop a comprehensive medical marijuana strategy that respects state law and facilitates safe access to marijuana for therapeutic use and research. Phone calls make a difference! Tell Senators on the Judiciary Committee that more should be done to reconcile the conflict between state and federal medical marijuana laws. Demand that these Senators ask Michele Leonhart the tough questions. PHONE SCRIPT Hello.  My name is ______________.  I am calling to urge Senators on the Judiciary committee to ask Michele Leonhart some tough questions during her confirmation hearing this week.  President Obama’s pick to head the DEA authorized hundreds of paramilitary-style enforcement raids on patients and providers who were in clear compliance with their state medical marijuana laws. These raids are a waste of resources and I think more needs to be done to resolve the growing conflict between state and federal law.  Please ensure that the next DEA Administrator possesses the leadership necessary to create a national strategy that supports safe and legal access to marijuana for medical purposes.   Members of the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary                     Democrats    
Senator Leahy VT (202) 224-4242
Senator Kohl WI (202) 224-5653
Senator Feinstein CA (202) 224-3841
Senator Feingold WI (202) 224-5323
Senator Specter PA (202) 224-4254
Senator Schumer NY (202) 224-6542
Senator Durbin IL (202) 224-2152
Senator Cardin MD (202) 224-4524
Senator Whitehouse RI (202) 224-2921
Senator Klobuchar MN (202) 224-3244
Senator Franken MN (202) 224-5641
For ideas on questions for the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask Ms. Leonhart, see ASA's confirmation questions here. For background on Ms. Leonhart and her anti-medical marijuana career with the DEA, check out ASA's Memo to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Nov 152010

Medical Marijuana Advocates Bring Attention to DEA Confirmation Hearings - Americans for Safe Access

Americans for Safe Access is urging Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) members to ask Acting Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head Michele Leonhart difficult and pointed questions on Wednesday, during her confirmation hearing, about her plan to address the growing divide between federal and state medical marijuana laws. Leonhart, a Bush-holdover, led aggressive attacks for many years against medical marijuana patients and their providers, and has obstructed meaningful research into the medical efficacy of marijuana. Read more about Leonhart’s confirmation hearing, her background as Deputy DEA Administrator, the questions ASA has submitted to the SJC, and the action patients are taking to hold Leonhart accountable for her actions.

[caption id="attachment_993" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart"]
Nov 152010

DC Medical Marijuana Law Advances Toward Implementation with New Revised Regulations - Americans for Safe Access

D.C. medical marijuana patient advocates claimed partial victory, as a new set of revised rules and regulations were published by the District on Friday. The biggest achievement for patients, which was recently underscored by, was wresting the licensing control from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) and placing it into the hands of more experienced healthcare providers. Although Americans for Safe Access (ASA) takes issue with other aspects of the regulations, such as the prohibition on patients cultivating their own medical marijuana, ASA intends to work with Mayor-elect Gray on reversing counter-productive and harmful provisions, building a strong and representative licensing board, and effectively meeting patients' needs. After voting for Initiative 59, the “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998,” more than 12 years ago, D.C. patients are ready to implement the law.
Nov 132010

Victory in Arizona! - Americans for Safe Access

Arizona voters approved Proposition 203, making that state the 15th to legalize medical cannabis. Supporters are celebrating the results after ten days of uncertainty during which victory seemed to be slipping away. Patients and advocates deserve congratulations. Proposition 203 is an important step forward for Arizona and in the state-by-state march to bring safe access to patients nationwide. Adopting state initiatives and passing legislation is a crucial step, but we can see from our experience that state medical cannabis laws do not necessarily translate into support from the state’s Congressional delegation. In California, where medical cannabis has been legal since 1996, long-time Senators Feinstein and Boxer have yet to pick up the mantle of safe access. Control of the US House of Representatives has shifted from the Democrats to the Republicans. This will test the Obama Administration’s evolving policy on state-based answers for medical cannabis. It is more important than ever that Americans for Safe Access (ASA) bring an educated and empowered constituency with real solutions to the table. We have to show policymakers how to bridge the divide between federal and state laws regarding medical cannabis – and prove that there is a safe political space to make it happen. Let’s celebrate our victory in Arizona; and then get down to the hard work of moving Congress and changing federal law. We still have a lot of work to do in ending the arrests and prosecutions of patients, ending the ban on research, and creating an access plan for the entire nation. Suggested Action: Email the US Senate Judiciary Committee about confirmation hearings for DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart.
Nov 042010

Is Harris the Next CA AG? Stay Tuned! - Americans for Safe Access

  • November 04, 2010 10:57 AM
While Kamala Harris' campaign team has declared  victory, the Secretary of State hasn't made a final decision yet.  There are a large number of unprocessed ballots (either because they were provisional, mailed in, or initially unreadable by the ballot tally machines).  Until we have a final official count, we won't know for certain. As of 2:34pm today, Ms. Harris held a lead of only 9,364 votes, down from estimates earlier in the day of under 14,000.  Voting precincts across the state are scrambling to get all of these unprocessed ballots counted accurately. Stay tuned to ASA's blog, & check our website often for updates.  We'll be sure to keep you in the loop.  For more information about ASA's statewide push against Steve Cooley, check out
Nov 032010

A New National Landscape for Patients - Americans for Safe Access

Yesterday was a hard day for medical marijuana advocates across the country.  We defeated several local initiatives banning dispensaries in California and Colorado and (fingers crossed) our "NotCooley"campaign provided the narrow margin necessary to ensure victory for California Attorney General-Elect Kamala Harris.  But voters rejected statewide medical marijuana initiatives in Arizona, Oregon and South Dakota, while measures to increase taxes on medicine in California won.   And of course, the US House of Representatives is now in the hands of dangerous politicians who do not share our vision of safe access.

We have never had so much to lose and our fight begins today!  It is more important than ever that we work together to protect the gains we've made and fight even harder for what we know is possible.  Americans for Safe Access (ASA) needs your support now more than ever.
The national landscape for medical marijuana has changed, but our course remains the same. Since 2006, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has been working full time in Washington, DC to: 1) Put an end to federal interference with state medical marijuana laws, 2) End the ban on clinical research, and 3) Create a plan to guarantee safe access for the entire nation. That work is ongoing and we will not stop until all Americans have safe and legal access.
But we cannot do this alone. This year, I traveled all over the country to meet patients and advocates and I am deeply moved by your commitment to safe access.  Unfortunately, I am also shocked by how few of you engage regularly with your federal representatives.  If you are not meeting with them, then they are only hearing about medical cannabis from our opposition.
These election results mean we need to fight harder!  With your help, ASA can be ready for new challenges and bigger victories.  Together we can stand up to our opponents in Congress and prepare for 2012 and beyond.   Can you make a contribution  to ASA today, so that we can keep fighting?

We must be our own liberators; no one is going to do our work for us.
Republican Party control of the House of Representatives may make our work more difficult, and that’s why it is more important than ever that ASA bring an educated and empowered constituency with real solutions to the table. We have to show the new Congress that patients’ voices cannot be ignored! That is the only way we will get policymakers to bridge the divide between federal and state laws regarding medical marijuana.
ASA will continue to work on Capitol Hill and with the Administration to improve the federal government's understanding about medical marijuana, as well as both the immediate and long term needs of our members. We may have lost several battles yesterday, but we have not lost the fight by any means. We’ve become used to working hard to defy the odds, but we need your support right now to keep making a positive difference in the lives of patients.  Join the fight today and help us make that difference!
Nov 022010

ASA in the Huffington Post - Americans for Safe Access

Online news giant Huffington Post published an outstanding op-ed by ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer this election morning, helping to bring our “Not Cooley” message to millions of Americans. This is an important message in California, where ASA and allies are urging voters to defeat anti-medical cannabis candidate Steve Cooley in his bid to be Attorney General. But it is also important nationwide. Elected officials need to know that medical cannabis patients and supporters are a political force to be reckoned with. High-profile media is an important part of that effort. Having Steph’s op-ed on a web site with an online readership bigger than both the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post is the way to get that coverage we need. Well done, Steph!
Nov 022010

Election Day! - Americans for Safe Access

It’s Election Day! Voters in some states will be casting important ballots on medical cannabis today, while others will be deciding on the candidates that may one day support or oppose patients’ rights. There are important choices to make at the local, state, and federal level. Be sure to read ASA’s Voter Guides. Don’t miss your chance to shape the future. Get to the polls and make your voice heard!
Oct 292010

New Website Tells Why Cooley Isn't Cool Enough to be CA’s Next Attorney General - Americans for Safe Access

  • October 29, 2010 12:23 AM
ASA, your leading me
dical marijuana patient advocacy group, stepped up our effort to oppose Steve Cooley in his bid to become California’s next Attorney General.   Steph Sherer, ASA’s founder and executive director, has deemed the Attorney General’s race the most important race for medical marijuana advocates in California this November.

This week ASA re-launched the website with new videos that highlight why Steve Cooley is bad for medical marijuana patients and their providers, bad for the environment, and bad for marriage equality.  There is also a poster, and, believe it or not, the campaign has inspired this song!

Steve Cooley has long fought patient advocates on the issue of medical marijuana.  As Los Angeles District Attorney, Cooley condoned dozens of SWAT-style raids on local dispensaries, aggressively prosecuted patients and their providers, and tried to criminalize the "sale" of medical marijuana.  If elected, Cooley could kill many of the gains made by patients over the past 14 years.

Help us spread the word.

After all, friends don't let friends vote for Cooley!

On Facebook, Twitter or Other Social Networking Sites:

  1. Change your picture to the Not Cooley Campaign Poster:

  2. Share the Campaign Link

  3. Share Anti-Cooley YouTube Videos on your Wall

    1. Not Cooley on Medical Marijuana

    2. Not Cooley on Same Sex Marriage

    3. Not Cooley on Environment

    4. Friend's don't let Friends Vote for Cooley

On Youtube:

  1. "Like" the Not Cooley Campaign videos

    1. Not Cooley on Medical Marijuana

    2. Not Cooley on Same Sex Marriage

    3. Not Cooley on Environment

    4. Friend's don't let Friends Vote for Cooley