National Medical Cannabis Advocacy Group Partners with Leading Global Law Firm - Americans for Safe Access
(New York) - Orrick, a leading global law firm, is partnering with Americans for Safe Access’ Patients’ Rights Project to provide pro bono support to medical cannabis patients, many if not most of whom are low-income, to navigate the often confusing legal landscape of medical cannabis laws. Forty-one states, DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam all have some type of medical cannabis law today. Each law is unique and presents varying challenges for patients trying to obtain treatment in these often complex programs. Once laws are passed, medical cannabis patients and providers are often unclear about the specifics of the laws, which leaves them vulnerable to arrest, prosecution, and incarceration. Furthermore, implementation of these programs has often required litigation. The services provided by this partnership will help fill a growing void for this type of resource.
(Washington, D.C.) Thursday morning, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the FY2017 Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies Appropriations Act (CJS) to protect medical cannabis patients. The amendment, sponsored by Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), prohibits the Depart of Justice from spending funds to interfere with state medical cannabis programs and was approved with strong bipartisan support, 21-8. Last year, the committee approved a nearly identical amendment from Mikulski, with the only change being the addition of Pennsylvania to the list of protected states, bringing the total to 41 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam.
Multiple Nations Call for Reform in International Cannabis Policies at United Nations - Americans for Safe Access
(New York, NY) – The United Nation’s General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drug policy began today with representatives and world leaders making strong statements urging member countries to move beyond prohibition and into effective regulations for medical Cannabis. H.E. Mogens Lykketoft, the current President of UNGASS, opened the event by discussing the need to address cannabis and the unfortunate situation where medical “cannabis laws defy the current conventions,” and that “...access to drugs for medical use is a human right to protect.”
(Harrisburg, PA) – Yesterday, in front of a crowd of patients and advocates Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed SB 3, making Pennsylvania the 24th medical cannabis state in the country to adopt a comprehensive medical marijuana program. The bill, introduced by Senator Mike Folmer, passed the House of Representatives on April 13 in a vote of 149-46 after nearly a year of delays and debate on amendments, most of which were not ultimately included. The bill will allow patients, with cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, seizures, autism, sickle cell anemia, and intractable pain obtain medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation.
Senate Appropriations Committee Votes to Allow VA to Recommend Medical Cannabis - Americans for Safe Access
(Washington, DC) – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations voted to approve the Veterans Equal Access Amendment (VEAA) to the FY2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilConVA) Appropriations bill, which sets the budget for the Veterans Administration (VA). The vote this year had record support of 20-10 with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) joining as new supporters.The bi-partisan amendment was reintroduced by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).
Maryland Passes Bill to Expand Certifying Providers for Medical Marijuana - Americans for Safe Access
(Annapolis, MD) – Yesterday, the Maryland Senate by a vote of 36-10 passed HB104, Medical Cannabis - Written Certifications - Certifying Providers on the last day of the legislative session. If Governor Larry Hogan (R) signs the legislation as expected, it will allow dentists, podiatrists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners in addition to physicians to provide written certifications for medical cannabis to qualifying patients. These additional medical providers must have an active, unrestricted license, be in good standing with their respective board, and have a State controlled dangerous substances (CDS) registration in order to qualify as a provider. Based on information provided by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services , there are 40,048 health care providers that had active CDS registrations in 2015, and this legislation will enable many of those providers to utilize cannabis treatment in their practices, as well as provide more options for patients seeking certification.
(Washington, DC) - Yesterday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joined the bipartisan Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act (S. 683) as a co-sponsor. The support of Senator Graham coincides with the one-year anniversary of the bill’s introduction by Senators Cory Booker (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY). The CARERS Act is the most comprehensive piece of medical cannabis legislation ever introduced in the U.S. Congress and would remedy the state-federal conflict over medical cannabis law.
“Graham’s support of CARERS Act is a significant step for patients” said Americans for Safe Access Executive Director, Steph Sherer. “This development should finally compel fellow Republican and Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley to allow the bill a vote. This is the only way to respect the 40 states that have laws recognizing medical use and the more than 80% of voters who support it.”
(Richmond, VA) - Yesterday, Virginia's lawmakers passed a bill which will allow for the eventual production and distribution of low THC marijuana oils in the Commonwealth. After lengthy discussions and negotiations in both houses, SB701, Cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil; permitting of pharmaceutical processors to manufacture and provide, passed the House of Delegates unanimously on Monday. The bill returned to the Senate Tuesday with amendments and passed with a vote of 39-0. The bill now goes to the Governor's desk for his signature.
“Providing this medication to Virginians is absolutely the right thing to do,” said Senator Dave Marsden, the sponsor of the legislation.“THCa and CBD oils have shown the ability to help alleviate the number and severity of seizures from intractable epilepsy and help so many families live a quality life. This is a huge step for Virginia, a first in the nation concept that will provide the medications in the safest most secure fashion and shows once again that Virginia leads the way.”
“I am pleased to have joined Senator Marsden once again in supporting legislation on this important issue. We must advocate for our most vulnerable Virginians. Passage of SB 701 is one of the many ways this can be done,” said Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, co-sponsor of the legislation.
(Richmond, VA) - Yesterday, the Virginia Senate by a vote of 37 to 2 passed SB701, a bill that would allow the production and manufacturing of cannabidiol (CBD) oil and THC-A oil in the state. For the past several weeks, patients, parents and advocates from across the state worked tirelessly to persuade members of the Senate to move forward on this issue, which until last year seemed out of reach for Virginia's conservative legislature.
Last year’s passage of SB1235 and HB1445 gave intractable epilepsy patients and their caregivers an affirmative defense for possession of two marijuana oils, THCa and CBD, used to treat seizures. However, the law provides no way for patients to obtain the oils without breaking federal and state laws. To help rectify this situation, Senator Marsden from Fairfax introduced SB701, which, if passed, will provide a mechanism for production in the state of these oils for patients with intractable epilepsy.
(New York, NY) – Today Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Steph Sherer, and Michael Krawitz, Executive Director, Veterans For Medical Cannabis Access will join organizations from across the globe at at the UN Headquarters to continue preparations for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS 2016) on drug policy to be held April 19th-21st They will be providing input for Member States in the negotiations of the outcome document to be presented at UNGASS 2016 and will be urging that global policies on medical cannabis be included.
The last time the UN held a special session was in 1999, and its focus, guided by the US, was to eliminate illegal drugs and drug trafficking. Today, international leaders, drug policy reform groups, patients, and citizens are encouraging the UN to reform this outdated and ineffective approach to drug policy. On the agenda for UNGASS 2016 is a review of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971, and the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988.