February 2006 Newsletter

Volume 1, Issue 2

ASA Announces Medical Advisory Board

Americans for Safe Access is pleased to announce the formation of our Medical Advisory Board. Members of this board will help ASA outreach to important medical, scientific, and condition-based organizations in an effort to influence organizational positions on medical marijuana.

THC Molecule

The board's initial advisory members include Rick Doblin, Ph.D, the founder and director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), an organization helping to end the federal government's monopoly on the production of marijuana for research purposes; Sara Henuber, PA-C, a licensed Physician Assistant and member of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine currently working in a private medical practice specializing in the use of cannabis therapy; Claudia Little, RN, MPH, a retired nurse practitioner who became aware of cannabis use for pain control through local patient support groups and who previously worked with a biopharmaceutical company that launched a monoclonal antibody therapy for Crohn's Disease and rheumatoid arthritis; Philippe Lucas, the founder of the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, and Vice-Chair of the Victoria Downtown Advisory Committee; Robert Melamede, Ph.D, associate professor of Biology for the University of Colorado; and Jahan Marcu, a cannabinoid researcher at the California Pacific Medical Center currently studying the phenomenon of "synergy" among various cannabinoid compounds.

ASA launched our medical campaign a few years ago in order to provide patients and medical personnel current medical and scientific information about the medical value of botanical cannabis. Since then we have produced and distributed a series of medical marijuana condition-based pamphlets, and facilitated the formation of patients' unions as a vehicle for lobbying and public education.

California Supreme Court to Hear Employment Discrimination Case

On September 7, 2005, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District issued a published decision denying a qualified medical marijuana patient any remedy for being terminated from his employment simply for testing positive for marijuana.

In Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications, Inc., the court relied on federal law to defeat Gary Ross's state law causes of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy and employment discrimination under of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Americans for Safe Access joined as co-counsel in the case, and was granted review by the California Supreme Court on November 30, 2005. ASA will be arguing that the Compassionate Use Act expressly declares that it is the public policy of the state to ensure the right of seriously ill Californians to obtain and use marijuana medicinally.

The plaintiff, Gary Ross, is a forty-three-year-old veteran of the United States Air Force, and father of two, who suffered a back injury while in the Air Force in January of 1983.

No federal law mandates that Gary Ross be fired for exercising this right in the privacy of his own home. The California Supreme Court brief will be filed by ASA in February, 2006, includes important issues of federalism and argues vehemently against employment discrimination.

*Visit the ASA website for the legal brief and further information about the case.

Public Officials & Patients Fume Over DEA Raid on HopeNet

Patients Protest HopeNet Raid Patients and supporters blockade HopeNet's door while chanting "DEA, Go Away!"

On December 20, 2005, DEA agents raided the home of Steve and Cathy Smith, who own the HopeNet dispensary in San Francisco. Hours later, DEA agents were waiting outside of HopeNet for a search warrant to raid the dispensary.

ASA staff and volunteers quickly organized a press conference and rally just two hours later. It featured Supervisor Chris Daily and a statement from State Assembly Member Mark Leno, as well as patient and dispensary representatives. More than fifty patients and supporters braved hard rains, blocking the doorway of Hopenet for three hours. San Francisco tactical squad officers were dispatched for crowd control, but pulled out after waiting for more than 3 hours for the DEA to produce a warrant. The DEA subsequently left without having been able to enter the facility. Although the DEA came back later that evening, we clearly demonstrated the overwhelming support for HopeNet and generated hundreds of positive media stories.

Take Action!

Write to US Attorney Kevin Ryan and ask him not to prosecute HopeNet.

Kevin Ryan
United States Attorney's Office
450 Golden Gate Avenue, 11th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102

On January 11, 2006, patients and public officials again vocalized their support for HopeNet. Two San Francisco Supervisors and spokespeople from the Mayor's office, District Attorney's office, local Assembly and State Senate offices, and representatives from ASA and the Drug Policy Alliance honored HopeNet at a press conference, presenting awards and admonishing the DEA to stay out of San Francisco. "I am utterly outraged at the actions by the DEA last month in raiding the Hope Net Cannabis Club," said a prepared statement by State Senator Carole Migden, "It's time they stop prosecuting the terminally ill, the sick and disabled."

Following this, Steve and Cathy organized a medical marijuana giveaway outside of city hall to help indigent patients who had been without medicine for weeks after the raid.

Medical Marijuana 3000 Mile Bike Ride

Ken Locke, ASA representative for North Carolina will be riding his bicycle across the United States this April to bring attention to the war on medical marijuana.

Ken became a medical marijuana patient in 2001, when a limb of a tree struck him on the head, shattering a section of his skull. Since then, Ken has been working tirelessly to change local and national laws against medical marijuana.

His bike ride will begin on April 7th, 2006 in South Carolina, and will end in the Bay Area of California. This will be a massive 3000+ mile effort to bring more attention to the bad laws that destroy so many lives.

Ken's trip will be the 7th Journey for Justice, following others who have marched to end unfair practices in the drug war and criminal justice system.

Please support Ken by joining him on portions of his ride, housing him along the way or donating to his journey. Please visit his website for details: http://www.angelfire.com/planet/bikeride.

National Action Alert: Tell HHS Secretary Leavitt To Answer the DQA Petition

Call Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt at (202) 619-0257 and tell him to answer ASA's Data Quality Act petition now! Remind him that patients cannot wait any longer for safe access to medical marijuana. ASA's challenge under the DQA forces HHS to recognize the medical efficacy of marijuana. The goal of the DQA petition is to rebuke the arguments the federal government has used in the past to obstruct reclassification efforts.