Blog Voices from the Frontlines
In a 1755 letter to the Pennsylvania General Assembly Ben Franklin wrote “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." However, while its original context, which related to tax policy, may not apply, the words lend themselves to a conversation that lawmakers should be having. How should our country address liberty, but also safety, when it comes to firearms and cannabis?
Yesterday afternoon, both the House of Representatives and the Senate voted on H.J. Res. 123, a Continuing Resolution that keeps the Government open through December 22, 2017. President Trump signed it into law this morning. H.J. Res 123 continues to fund the Federal Government at existing levels and includes all policy provisions as the previous budget. This includes the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment which is the only thing protecting medical cannabis patients from federal interference and prosecution.
Kettle Falls Five Matriarch Advocates for CJS Medical Marijuana Amendment in DC - Americans for Safe Access
The last 5 years have been a nightmare for Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, who is well known among medical cannabis advocates as a member of the Kettle Falls Five. For those unfamiliar with the story, Rhonda and her late husband Larry’s property in Washington State, near the town of Kettle Falls was raided in 2012 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for growing medical cannabis.
Patient Advocates Call on Congress to Act to Preserve Medical Cannabis to Fight Opiate Crisis - Americans for Safe Access
As a kick off to the End Pain Not Lives Campaign on November 1, Americans for Safe Access and US Pain Foundation advocates held a press conference and rally on Capitol Hill to encourage Congress and the Administration to consider medical cannabis as an option for pain in order to help mitigate the current opioid overdose crisis that has hit epidemic proportions in our nation.
On October 15, 2017, the Washington Post and 60 Minutes released a scathing report on the pharmaceutical industry’s influence of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This report, in large part, scrutinized Representative Tom Marino (R-PA) and his potential appointment as the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) also known as the Drug Czar because of his ties with and sponsorship of legislation favoring the pharmaceutical industry.
This week, we submitted comments relating to the efficacy and medical usefulness of cannabidiol as a medical treatment. In August, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a notice in the federal register asking for public comments on cannabidiol (CBD) and 16 other substances prior to a meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) that will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from November 6-November 10. The FDA will consider the comments on these substances in creating a response to WHO which will determine what, if any, international restrictions will be placed on the listed substances.
Valencia Elliott grew up in what she calls a tough part of the country where she’d regularly smell cannabis being smoked, but she never had any interest in it. That changed late in life when her husband, an Army veteran who’d been exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, confided he had cancer. Worse, he’d been hiding a prostate cancer diagnosis for a year, and by the time he told her, he also had two other types of cancer. That was June 3, 2015, but the nightmare had already started. She didn’t know what was wrong, but they were already going back and forth to the hospital with complaints about his pain.
Update 9/8/2017- Congress has approved a continuing resolution to keep the government open through December 8th, 2017. In addition to funding government agencies this continuing resolution also maintains that the Department of Justice can not use funds to prevent the implementation of a medical cannabis program or to prosecute patients. The continuing resolution extends the time for negotiations of the 2018 fiscal year budget. If the continuing resolution is signed by President Trump, this means that protections for medical cannabis patients will continue through December 8th. Under the previous continuing resolution, patient protections were set to expire on September 30th without Congressional action.
Unfortunately, the House Rules Committee blocked amendments related to medical cannabis from being voted on as part of the 2018 Appropriations process. Despite this setback in the House, protections for patients have been approved in the Senate version of the Appropriations bill. In the coming weeks, there will be a meeting of a conference committee which will resolve the differences between the Senate and House appropriations bills. We hope that the conference committee listens to millions of Americans who support the use of cannabis as medicine and include patient protections in the final bill they send to President Trump.
In addition to the pushing the conference committee to include patient protections, as always we will continue to work diligently to pass permanent legislation like the CARERS act to ensure patients are not made into criminals.
On Monday, August 14th, Maryland’s Medical Cannabis Commission announced the approval of three PFC-certified companies to grow and process medical cannabis for the patients of Maryland who have waited so long. Along with ForwardGro, the first company to receive a Stage 2 license in Maryland, Freestate Wellness, Harvest of Maryland, and Green Leaf Medical are currently part of ASA’s Patient Focused Certification program.
From August 6 through August 9, Americans for Safe Access was in Boston attending and exhibiting at the 2017 National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) Legislative Summit.
The NCSL conference is one of the largest annual gatherings of state legislators, legislative staff, government officials and advocates. With over 6,700 attendees, we had a great time educating state legislators about safe access to medical cannabis.