With August Recess starting, Congress members are leaving DC and returning home for a month of work. This is the perfect opportunity to meet with them and tell your story about how important medical cannabis is to you. Last week we posted a blog on how to schedule an August recess meeting, so take a look if you missed it.
Talking to a member of Congress or their staff should not be a scary thing - YOU are the expert in this conversation! Sometimes during August recess Congress members will be able to meet with you directly. If you are scheduled to meet with a staffer instead of the member, that is ok and normal! Staffers are the wheels that make Congress turn and they are responsible for educating the member on various issues. Talking to a staffer is just as important as talking to the member so please do not be discouraged if you are not meeting directly with your representative.
With just a few weeks left of summer, Congress is taking its annual August Recess break. Often when advocates think of meeting their representatives they imagine needing to travel to Washington, DC and meet with them in the halls of Congress. The August Recess break is the perfect opportunity for cannabis advocates, like you, to schedule meetings with your representatives and senators in their home office. Your representatives and senators will be working at their district offices throughout the month so it is the perfect opportunity to have your voice heard without needing to travel to DC.
Happy Birthday ASA!
I am so humbled by all that we have accomplished together over the last 20 years. When we started Americans for Access, we were facing paramilitary style raids from the DEA, only 8 states had passed laws creating criminal exemptions for medical cannabis patients, the DEA was still saying that cannabis was a gateway drug and there was no legal access anywhere!
And look at the world that you have helped create!
The issue of adulterants in cannabis vape products has once again resurfaced as the Pennsylvania Office of Medical Marijuana issued a notice to medical cannabis patients on February 4, 2022 advising them of a recall of over 500 different products containing substances not suitable for inhalation. The problem was first brought to light when the VAPI (vaping associated pulmonary injury) crisis occurred in 2019, which sickened over 2,800 people and killed at least 68. The source of the outbreak was linked to the use of Vitamin E acetate and other diluents that are more likely to be found in illicit market vapes than legal market products.
25 years have passed since the first medical cannabis laws came into effect in California, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of ASA’s role in the fight for safe access. Although conditions have improved for patients significantly in the past two decades, our 2021 State of the State report clearly shows that even after 25 years, states are falling short on providing safe, legal, and affordable access to ALL patients.
Since 2014, Americans for Safe Access has been publishing the State of the States report as a tool for local advocates and policy makers to understand and improve their medical cannabis program. What this report reflects is that the state-by-state model does not address many medical or logistical needs for patients, it only serves a privileged class of Americans with the resources available to access medical cannabis. There are a litany of barriers patients still face to access, some of these include health insurance coverage, product availability, proximity to retail location, federal employees and contractors as well as veterans utilizing VA medical services exclusions, and private companies that drug test for cannabis where no state government steps in to protect them. And these only scratches the surface of the problems patients face across the country.
Each year, as we prepare to publish our State of the States report, we like to take a step back and look at the top general trends that we notice across the report.
The journey here has been a lengthy saga in the abuse of power by the prohibitionist lawmakers and bureaucrats of the Hospitality state who fought tooth and nail against the will of their constituents at every step in the process. It is evident through all of their constant obstruction that, without the overwhelming consent of the voters, state lawmakers in Mississippi would’ve never bothered to pass legislation to improve the quality of life of their constituents. Luckily for the people of Mississippi, state law allows voters to organize ballot initiative campaigns that, with enough signatures, can put important reforms directly before the voters.
Despite the Covid global crises, ASA was hard at work at the state and federal levels, and had a busy 2021. Here are just a few of the activities we accomplished last year.
On February 2, 2022, Governor Tate Reeves chose to sign SB 2095 into law, making Mississippi the 37th state to adopt medical cannabis laws. The adoption of these laws is the conclusion of a year-long struggle for the future of cannabis in Mississippi.
In November 2020, Mississippi voters overwhelmingly supported a ballot initiative (74.1% of votes in favor), which authorized the state’s department of health to create a medical cannabis program. The state's legislators rejected the measure, and instead sought to pass a weakened version of the law. On January 26, 2022, the state legislature passed SB 2095, their watered down vision for medical cannabis in Mississippi.
There are loopholes written into the language that will allow individual municipalities to reject the law and keep medical cannabis illegal in their jurisdictions, and the bill limits cannabis businesses to operate in industrial or agricultural zones, which limits patient access. ASA strongly opposes both of these provisions. Patients across the state should have equitable access to this treatment option and should not be burdened by localities that wrongly choose to opt out of the law.
Check out ASA's annual recap of the important developments and events of the past year in the January issue of the ASA Activist Newsletter. ASA's 2021 Year in Review includes federal and state news and links to ASA campaigns, resources and member benefits. You'll also find new PFC training courses, certifications, and a free guide for cannabis businesses.
You'll also find links and excerpts of the year's profiles of activists who are making a difference for safe access.
Each month, the ASA Activist Newsletter covers important federal, state and local developments, what's happening with ASA, and inspiring stories of local activists. Subscribe today!
Are you allowed to travel with medical cannabis? Can you cross state lines with medical cannabis? Can you bring cannabis on a plane or train? What about a bus? While in another state, what are the rules to purchase it legally? These are just a few of the many questions that medical cannabis patients may have while travelling for the holidays.