Blog Voices from the Frontlines

Jul 062020

What’s in a name? Marijuana, Cannabis, and Hemp - Americans for Safe Access

Adapted from The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma, and the Patient Experience (Routledge, 2019)  by Michelle Newhart and William Dolphin

As with all things involving social controversy, dispute over what to properly call the plant known by the botanical name Cannabis Sativa L. comes with the territory. As a forbidden intoxicant, it attracts more slang and code names than most—from “muggles” and “weed” in the 1920’s, “reefer” and “pot” in the 30’s, and “grass” in the 40’s to today’s “dank” and “chronic.” Putting aside colloquialisms, the three terms commonly used in the U.S. are marijuana, cannabis, and hemp. For at least the last half-century, marijuana has been the most prevalent term, but cannabis is gaining currency. Patients often use both marijuana and cannabis to refer to the plant, with many calling it marijuana, the name used in many state laws and regulations, as well as federal law, but that is changing rapidly. That change is reflected in the Google search results produced for the terms. In January 2018, “medical marijuana” appeared roughly 1,750,000 times to a mere 567,000 hits for “medical cannabis.” As of June 2020, “medical marijuana” appears roughly 143,000,000 times and “medical cannabis” 174,000,000 times. That’s a remarkable increase in both the use of the term, as well as the amount of online material about medical use.

Jun 022020

ASA offers solution to DOJ research block: Our comments on the DEA’s proposed rules - Americans for Safe Access

On March 23, the Drug Enforcement Administraction (DEA) published a proposed rulemaking—“Controls to Enhance the Cultivation of Marihuana for Research in the United States”—in the Federal Register (85 FR 16292), involving who can grow cannabis in bulk for research purposes.  Americans for Safe Access (ASA) submitted comments which suggested several amendments to the provisions of these regulations governing the bulk marijuana manufacturers program. In the comments, we suggest to federal legislators and the DEA that a new agency be established that has no history in prosecution of the activities of which the DEA seeks to become the sole enforcer. This new agency, the Office of Medical Cannabis Control (OMCC), would be tasked with overseeing not only the requirements of the research program, but would also enable cultivators that are already licensed in medical cannabis states to provide high quality medical cannabis to researchers, thereby increasing the diversity of products that can be used in research studies and clinical trials.

May 082020

The Cost of Non-Compliance - Americans for Safe Access

While most cannabis and hemp businesses understand that they must follow a set of guidelines and implement certain quality control factors into their daily operations, many do not understand the depth of compliance and documentation needed to meet all state and federal requirements. Countless operators complain about the cost of compliance, without factoring in the costs of non-compliance. As enforcement activities increase across states and as the federal government establishes guidelines for hemp and CBD production, it is more important than ever that businesses take the necessary steps to reach and maintain compliance.

May 072020

5 Ways to Thank Essential Workers - Americans for Safe Access

While many of us are stuck inside, safe in our homes, most essential workers are still making their commutes into work every day. Whether they’re preparing the food we eat, saving lives in the ICU, delivering packages, or working in a dispensary to provide medicine to patients; these individuals are putting themselves at risk to ensure that the essential services we rely on remain open.

As a token of appreciation to all those that are putting their lives at risk to help service others, we have created a list of 5 ways you can thank the essential workers in your life.

Apr 272020

Update on Cannabis Rescheduling at the United Nations - Americans for Safe Access

In March 2020, the United Nations Committee on Narcotic Drugs (CND) was expected to vote on the WHO’s recommendations on the scheduling of cannabis and cannabis products during their annual meeting in Vienna, Austria. However, the CND decided to delay the vote until its next meeting in December 2020.  This marks the second time the vote was delayed. 

The CND is responsible for implementing international drug control treaties as well as making decisions about scheduling new substances as well as changing the scheduling of drugs. The CND bases these decisions on recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO makes their recommendations on the scheduling of drugs based on the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) critical review document.

Apr 242020

Medical Cannabis Patient Scores Important Victory in Employment Discrimination Lawsuit against Amazon in New Jersey - Americans for Safe Access

Employment protections for medical cannabis patients in New Jersey could soon be strengthened following an important win for the plaintiff in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed against Amazon last year -- D.J.C. v. Amazon Com DEDC, LLC, et al. The federal court ruling, issued earlier this month, will allow the lawsuit to proceed in state court, paving the way for a more employee-friendly resolution of the case. 

Mar 242020

Cannabinoids, Influenza, and Coronavirus - Americans for Safe Access

With everything happening in the news lately, we want to present some scientific data to help medical cannabis patients and adult-use consumers make informed decisions in regard to cannabis products available, product safety, and personal health. Each person’s health situation is unique, and medical cannabis patients should discuss with their doctor or healthcare provider the best approach to prevent and treat current illnesses while potentially battling influenza or coronavirus.

Mar 092020

Office of Medical Cannabis Control: A New Way to End the State/Federal Conflict Regarding Medical Cannabis - Americans for Safe Access

There are now over 3 million medical cannabis patients across the country; ninety-one percent of Americans now live in states with some form of access to medical cannabis, while sixty-six of American adults are in favor of full legalization. Despite this, cannabis retains its Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning the federal government considers it to be a dangerous, highly addictive substance with no medical value. This continues to cause numerous conflicts between the federal government and the states that have rolled out these health programs for their citizens. The only protection for these programs in federal law is the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment found in the Commerce Justice Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill which, as a budget bill, is subject to change each year. Plans for legalization at the federal level by different means have been introduced for years with little impact; H.R.3884, The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, was the first and only bill of this nature to clear a Congressional committee. It is time for a new approach to end the federal conflict on cannabis policy.

Feb 282020

Important Update from USDA - Americans for Safe Access

The signing of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the 2018 Farm Bill) into law resulted in the descheduling of hemp and opened the door to the wide scale production of the crop. It also tasked the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with establishing rules and regulations around hemp cultivation, including adherence to the legal limit of 0.3% THC by dry weight. USDA released its Interim Final Rule on Hemp on October 31, 2019. The team at Americans for Safe Access (along with almost 4,700 hundred other organizations and individuals) submitted comments on the new rule before the public comment period closed on January 29, 2020.

Oct 012019

Patient-Focused Recommendations Regarding the Vaping Crisis - Americans for Safe Access

Update 11/8/2019: The CDC has confirmed that out of 29 samples of lung fluid from affected patients all samples tested positive for Vitamin E acetate. This has led the CDC to consider Vitamin E acetate to be a "chemical of concern."

Over the past two months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been working with state and local departments of health around the country to identify cases of what has come to be known as Vaping-Associated Pulmonary Illness (VAPI). As of 5:00 PM on September 25, the CDC had confirmed 805 cases of lung injury in 46 states and one U.S. territory. The CDC also confirmed a total of 12 deaths in 10 states.


While several states have issued recommendations to quit using vapes, other states have banned, or are currently looking into banning, vaporization products (for both nicotine and cannabis) altogether. Massachusetts has banned the sale of all vaporization products for four months, and New York and Michigan are banning sales of flavored vaping products. Other jurisdictions, such as Los Angeles, are considering bans as well.