Pages tagged "Americans for Safe Access (ASA)"

  • CA Assembly Approves Landmark Medical Cannabis Bill

    [caption id="attachment_2715" align="alignleft" width="158" caption="Tom Ammiano"]

    The California Assembly just approved AB 2312, a bill by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF) that will create a statewide board to regulate medical cannabis. The Senate will take up the bill next. Advocates are thrilled, and vow to build on this momentum to make sure the bill is also approved in the Senate and signed by Governor Brown. The campaign to adopt AB 2312 has already seen a dramatic expansion in the coalition for medical cannabis, including the influential United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and the largest medical cannabis citizen lobby day in state history.

    Assemblymember Ammiano introduced AB 2312 in response to growing calls for statewide clarity from elected officials and the courts. The public wants legislation like this, too. A poll conducted by EMC research shows that 77% of Californians support the regulation, control, and taxation of cannabis. The nine-member appointed board created by the bill will be charged with developing, implementing, and enforcing statewide regulations – something that is already underway in other states where medical cannabis is legal. The Author and advocates anticipate that greater consistency will help to address ambivalence about the state’s medical cannabis program and prevent local officials from blocking implementation or calling for federal intervention.

    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and coalition members are proud of the growing support and increased grassroots participation in the campaign for AB 2312. We call on everyone who supported this important bill to keep working to make needed improvements and get the bill passed by the Senate. And we call on those who are undecided or oppose (including misinformed lawmakers) to take another look.

    Thank you to the thousands of you who called, emailed, and wrote in support of AB 2312. And thank you to the hundreds of you who participated in our Citizen Lobby Day on May 21. We would not have made it this far without you. I also want to say a special that you to our partners at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana, Assemblymember Amminao, and his staff, who all worked tirelessly to pass this bill.

    Don Duncan is ASA's California Director.
  • CA Unity Conference: You Can Still Be a Part of History

    ASA’s California Unity Conference was a huge success. For two days, 200 advocates learned about the steps our movement needs to take to be successful, met and networked with advocates from their regions, and trained in a variety of tools to advance our cause. On the third day, an unprecedented 300 patient advocates stormed the Sacramento Capitol to bring our message directly to the lawmakers. It was an inspiring moment.

    If you couldn’t attend our conference, you can participate virtually. Below you can watch the video by lawmakers encouraging us to lobby our representatives. You can download our workbook as a PDF, and use it to learn how to speak effectively to your elected representatives - in California and beyond.

    The crowning achievement of the conference was our mass lobby day, when 300 activists from across the state lobbied their representatives in support of AB2312 and SB1182. We had constituents from 70 of the 80 Assembly Districts and 36 of the 40 Senate districts - a statewide turnout that in the past has only been matched by California’s heaviest-hitting interest groups. Our medical cannabis advocates were well-trained and well-informed, and we showed Sacramento that patients are a political force to be reckoned with!

    You can multiply our efforts

    Even if you could not be there to talk to your representatives in person, you can lobby for sensible statewide regulation from the comfort of your own home. Go to ASA’s Online Action Center to look up your California Assemblymember and Senator, and email and call them to ask them to support AB2312 and SB1182. Please do so this week, as the vote will happen by Friday night. It is your support that will multiply the work of the advocates at the conference, and bring safe access to California.

    Thanks to everyone who attended and supported the conference, our movement has made a giant step forward. We will be building on this success in other parts of the country as the struggle for safe access continues. Stay tuned, and thanks for your support!

  • CA Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Cannabis Collectives

    In a major victory for patients and medical cannabis cooperatives, today the California Supreme Court rejected calls from the California Attorney General and law enforcement to review the Appeals Court ruling in People v. Colvin (PDF). At issue in this case was Attorney General Kamala Harris’s interpretation of the Medical Marijuana Program Act to require an undefined percentage of the membership of a medical marijuana collective to actively participate in some way in the operation of the collective. The court’s ruling today means that medical cannabis collectives in California may operate like any other collective, such as REI or Costco, in which a member of the collective participates solely through purchasing products distributed by the collective.

    At ASA, we were of course very concerned with the Attorney General’s argument that patients had to participate actively in the operations of a medicinal cannabis collective, because many patients are not physically able to do so (among other objections). Harris’s interpretation of the law was invented from whole cloth, and the Second Appellate district recognized it as such. That Court of Appeal in its ruling that was upheld today, stated that the Medical Marijuana Program Act imposes no such restriction on medical marijuana collectives.

    The California Supreme Court’s rejection of efforts by the CA Attorney General and law enforcement to review the Colvin case effectively puts an end to this issue and makes clear that medical marijuana collectives should be treated the same as others under the law. This is a big victory for patients and our movement.

    Joe Elford is the Chief Counsel for Americans for Safe Access.
  • Sonoma Advocates Host Election Forum

    Note from Steph - This is an awesome way to inform your community while educating candidates and your future elected representatives. Kudos to Kumari and Sarah Shrader for arranging this forum!
    [caption id="attachment_2646" align="alignleft" width="267" caption="Sonoma County"]
    [/caption]Candidates for the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will voice their views on medical marijuana in a public forum to be held tomorrow, Wednesday May 23rd, at the Sonoma County Central Library located at 3rd and E Streets in Santa Rosa. The Forum is hosted by the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana (SAMM) and the Sonoma County Chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), and will be facilitated by Santa Rosa attorney, Joe Rogoway. The event begins at 5pm and goes until 7:30pm.

    The forum presents an opportunity to hear candidates’ positions on a number of relevant, local, medical cannabis issues. A question and answer period will follow the candidates’ statements. Admission is free and the public is invited. Wheelchair accessible. Refreshments provided.

    This is an exciting and important election because 3 of the 5 seats on the Board are open. There are 11 candidates vying for these 3 seats. The Primary Election on June 5th will determine the top 2 candidates for each seat, and those candidates will face off in the November 6th final election. Whoever wins those 3 seats in November will determine the future of medical cannabis in our county.

    In the 1st district, there are 6 candidates contending for Valerie Brown's seat. In the 3rd district there are 2 candidates including incumbent Shirlee Zane. The 5th district has 3 candidates including incumbent Efren Carillo. Candidates have been asked to complete a survey in advance; their responses will be made available to attendees and all inquiring parties.

    The Board is a key decision maker for local medical cannabis policies. It determines guidelines for possession and cultivation; sets dispensary regulations; and approves dispensary permits, consistent with state laws, Prop. 215 and SB420. Members of the Board also approve the budgets for the Sonoma County Sheriff and District Attorney offices.

    SAMM was formed in 1996 after California voters passed into law Proposition 215, the "Compassionate Use Act of l996" which allows Californians to use marijuana as medicine. Sonoma County voters supported the initiative by more than 70%. ASA is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists, and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. Sonoma chapter of ASA has been active for almost 10 years, and holds monthly meetings that are open to the public.

    Through the years, SAMM and ASA have worked with the Sheriff's Office, District Attorney, Department of Health, City Councils, County Board of Supervisors, Sonoma County Medical Association, and the Narcotics Task Force. They have worked together to establish policies and ordinances for medical marijuana patients, caregivers, small cooperatives, and medical cannabis dispensing collectives. Both are non-profit, volunteer, educational organizations. Neither distributes cannabis. More information about SAMM can be found at
  • 300 Medical Cannabis Advocates Lobbied the CA Legislature Today!

    Today, 300 advocates representing every part of California have met with each of the 120 legislative offices to urge the passage of AB2312 and SB1182. A few minutes after noon, hundreds rallied on the steps of the Capitol to demonstrate their united, enthusiastic support for sensible, statewide regulation of medical cannabis in keeping with the voter-approved Prop 215. Addressing the rally were Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, UFCW Director Dan Rush, Californians for Cannabis Policy Reform leader Dale Sky Jones, and Americans for Safe Access California Director Don Duncan and Executive Director Steph Sherer.
    "The grassroots - no pun intended - is how we change the world," said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, sponsor of AB2312. "I look forward to all of you speaking to my colleagues, your representatives, and passing this important, common-sense regulation of medical cannabis."

    "Today we are a unified, California medical cannabis community that’s energized and ready to educate our representatives in support of this important legislation. We’re especially proud of our members in Local 5, Local 8, and Local 770 for engaging in the democratic process and uniting with our sisters and brothers in this new industry," said Dan Rush, United Food and Commercial Workers Director, National Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division, on the steps of the Capitol.

    "The lack of safe, well-regulated access to medical marijuana is tragedy for the families and victims of violent crime who don’t have the full attention of law enforcement. I stand with the victims of violent crime today, as a mother. I demand our justice department go after gun violence, child predators and human traffickers," said Dale Sky Jones of Californians for Cannabis Policy Reform.

    "While you’re here lobbying in person, you are joined by tens of thousands of virtual visitors from all over the state who are emailing their representatives," said Don Duncan, California Director of ASA, to the assembled advocates.

    "Today the medical cannabis movement has shown state legislators that we're diverse and we're organized. We've come together to pass AB2312, to create sensible statewide regulations for safe access for patients and safe communities across the state of California." said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA.
  • UFCW: Why I'm Attending the CA Unity Conference

    I will be attending the CA Unity Conference and Lobby Day because I support the hardworking, taxpaying medical cannabis members of my union, the United Food and Commercial Workers. I am a proud member of UFCW Local 5’s Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division, and a Special Projects Union Representative for Local 5. My Local was the first in the nation to start organizing cannabis workers in 2010 with the Oaksterdam family of businesses, and was a lead coalition partner in support of Proposition 19. Since then, medical cannabis workers have joined our union throughout California; in Sacramento, San Francisco, the Emerald Triangle, Los Angeles, Marin County, San Jose, and other areas across the state. We were also proud coalition partners with the Citizens Coalition for Patient Care referendum campaign in San Jose, which overturned the bad ordinance that would have effectively banned medical cannabis dispensaries. Workers have also joined UFCW’s Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division in Colorado and Michigan, and we will soon be organizing in other medical cannabis states across the country. By joining UFCW Local 5, our cannabis members have secured health insurance, a good wage, retirement benefits, paid holidays and sick leave, and most importantly, a dignified work environment through our collective bargaining agreements. Medical cannabis workers are just like any other person trying to make a living in our Union, and we are proud to stand in solidarity with them. I will be there Monday to urge my elected officials to vote “Yes” on A.B. 2312. We need to send a message to Washington D.C. that we support a dignified, regulated, unionized medical cannabis industry, and it’s time for these outrageous attacks on regulated producers and distributors of medical cannabis to stop now! Nearly 150 of Local 5’s cannabis members are out of work since the Obama administration’s inexplicable attacks on California’s medical cannabis workers began last fall. The President has always gone out of his way to say that he will not go after medical cannabis users abiding by state law, but has given a blank check to an out of control Justice Department to attack medical cannabis producers. We need to send a message to our elected officials that they can’t have it both ways on medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is overwhelmingly popular; a recent Mason-Dixon poll shows that 74% of Americans disagree with the Obama administration’s attacks on legitimate medical cannabis providers. It is simply ridiculous to tell sick and suffering patients that they can have medical cannabis, they just can’t legally get it anywhere. That is like telling a cancer patient that she can have morphine, she just has to synthesize it herself from her backyard poppy flowers! Without continued access to safe, legal medicine, the only other option for most patients is resorting to the criminal market, sending more money and power to violent gangs and cartels. Let’s put our UFCW medical cannabis members back to work by supporting A.B. 2312 and the ASA/UFCW California Unity Conference and Lobby Day. I hope to see you in Sacramento. Matt Witemyre is Special Projects Union Representative, UFCW Local 5 Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division. If you are a medical cannabis worker or cultivator and you would like more information on the benefits of joining the United Food and Commercial Workers, e-mail him at [email protected]

  • San Francisco: Why I'm Attending the CA Unity Conference

    Note from Steph: The conference agenda has been posted online. I can't wait to see you in Sacramento!

    Why am I attending the California Unity Conference? Because the federal government continues to undermine state and local medical marijuana laws - resulting in the closure of some of San Francisco’s oldest and best-regulated dispensing collectives, and scaring patients who fear reprisal from law enforcement just for using their medicine. We are being put to the ultimate test to see whether or not our community has the strength and adversity to protect and defend safe access. Right now, support from our elected representatives is jeopardized because of misinformation being spread by our opponents. We must stop these attacks on medical cannabis and take back the momentum for patients.

    How do we stop this? By informing legislators of the facts. The truth is that regulated dispensaries benefit communities by providing access for the most seriously ill and injured, and reduce crime in the vicinity when well-regulated. The use of medical marijuana under the care and supervision of a licensed medical professional consistently carries 80% support in nation-wide polling, but only small minority have actually taken action. Our opponents are a well-funded, very vocal minority. So we need our majority of supporters to be very vocal! That means all of you!

    Are you ready for this fight? I am. Join hundreds of medical cannabis patients and advocates for the California Unity Conference in Sacramento May 19-21, to shape the state’s medical cannabis laws during this legislative cycle and beyond, and learn how to create successful pro-patient actions in your community.

    Why do we fight? Because all patients deserve safe access to medicine. No matter where you live in California, or in the USA, ASA works tirelessly to implement common-sense regulations that will allow safe access for patients. Discrimination of medical cannabis patients must stop now: they deserve same rights as any other patient. So let’s tell our state reps to stop spreading lies and playing politics with patients’ lives.

    I've watched other causes succeed with less support. I know we can win this; but it will take a large number of people. We've already seen what we can accomplish with our SF United Campaign. On April 3rd, we rallied over 600 people on the steps of San Francisco City Hall to save safe access. We managed to get a statement from the mayor, we helped the San Francisco Democratic Party adopt a resolution, and we confronted and got a statement from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) condemning the escalated attacks on state-compliant medical marijuana businesses. Now envision thousands of medical cannabis supporters descending on the State Capitol. Can you imagine the impact that will have?

    Be a part of winning this fight - join us this weekend!

    Tony Bowles is a Core Member of the San Francisco Chapter of ASA. He was a plaintiff in ASA’s successful lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol.
  • Why Regulated Dispensaries Should be Welcomed, not Worrisome, in DC and throughout the Nation

    Last week, two Washington, D.C. Area Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) voted unanimously in support of dispensary permit applicants who received provisionally sufficient scores by the District Department of Health to operate in their neighborhoods. Two additional medical cannabis dispensary applicants will have their applications considered at ANC meetings later in May. Some in these neighborhoods have expressed fear over negative perceptions about what medical cannabis dispensaries mean in terms of community impact; however, the best evidence available suggests that dispensaries are a benefit, not a risk, to public safety.

    Whenever the Unknown Enters your Community, it’s Natural to Worry About the Impact 
    The worry of some District residents (as well as those in each state that adopts a new medical cannabis law) of dispensaries coming into their community is natural. For those who are concerned, the reality is actually different than the fears. As research by UCLA concludes (PDF), dispensaries are actually wonderful neighbors because crime is reduced in areas surrounding well-regulated dispensaries, regardless of the existing crime level prior to the dispensary’s arrival. More specifically, “Dispensaries with security cameras and signs requiring a [patient registration identification] card had significantly lower levels of violence within 100 and 250 feet.”

    What Public Officials Have to Say About Well-Regulated Dispensaries
    Americans for Safe Access has prepared a white paper with testimonials from lawmakers, police chiefs and other municipal officials (PDF) from locations where medical cannabis dispensaries have been implemented and are well-regulated. Sebastopol CA Police Chief Jeffrey Weaver reported, "We've had no increased crime associated [with Sebastopol's medical cannabis dispensary], no fights, no loitering, no increase in graffiti, no increase in littering, zip." In much larger Los Angeles, Police Chief Charlie Beck observed that, "banks are more likely to get robbed than medical marijuana dispensaries," and that the claim that dispensaries attract crime "doesn't really bear out." Concerning community fear of the unknown, San Francisco Supervisor David Campos noted, "The parade of horrors that everyone predicted has not materialized."

    D.C.’s Public Safety Dispensary Regulations are Among the Strictest in the County
    The District of Columbia’s regulations have very stringent dispensary security requirements compared to any existing state regulations, which can be found here on pages 72-80 (DOC). In addition to the high security standards, ASA’s white paper highlights the fact that very few people - only those with appropriate registration cards - will be allowed to enter dispensaries, and that there are criminal penalties for those who sell or even give away medical cannabis acquired from a dispensary.

    The instinct of community residents to want to preserve and promote public safety in their neighborhoods is laudable. Residents with that goal should be open to the best evidence available about public safety. When it comes to medical cannabis dispensaries, their impact on community public safety ought to be welcome, not a cause for alarm.

    Mike Liszewski is ASA's Policy Director. Read ASA's complete white paper on DC's regulations and dispensary safety (PDF).
  • Oregon: Dwight is Not Right for Patients

    There has never been a clearer opportunity to demonstrate support for medical marijuana than the current race for Oregon Attorney General, which features two Democrats with decidedly different views on safe access to therapeutic cananbis. This campaign and the media it has generated is important for the national perception it creates that

    1. there is a medical marijuana movement and

    2. that our movement will act unified enough to make a difference in an election.

    This campaign is the first time any of the US Attorneys who led attacks on state legal co-op gardens has ever had to consider the marijuana vote. Dwight Holton has consistently sided with the tough on crime crowd and boasts endorsements from the group responsible for passing Oregon’s mandatory minimum sentences law.

    Judge Ellen Rosenblum – with 22 years on the bench and 14 more as a prosecutor and an attorney – says she will protect patients and uphold Oregon’s voter-approved law. That law passed in 1998, five years before her opponent Dwight Holton moved to Oregon.

    Recent polls show Rosenblum with a healthy lead. But with 60% of the vote yet to be cast, Holton can still make a comeback.

    Every vote matters in this race. Please share this on Facebook and tell all of your friends. It’s too late to mail in your ballot. You must find one of Oregon’s drop-off sites in your community. Vote Rosenblum for Oregon Attorney today.

    Jim Greig is an ASA organizer in Eugene, Oregon.
  • Romney says patients aren’t significant: Show him your significance!

    During a TV interview in Denver yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney got testy when asked about access to cannabis. He asked, “Aren’t there issues of significance you would like to talk about?”

    Mitt Romney, access to medical cannabis is significant to patients and their loved ones.

    President Obama has not been a friend to medical marijuana users, as we all know. Under his watch, more than 170 dispensaries, caregivers and patients have faced federal law enforcement action in states where medical marijuana is legal. But Mitt Romney’s statement is harsher than anything the President has said on the issue. Romney added, “I think medical marijuana should not be legal in this country.”

    Of course, given Romney’s history of flip-flops on healthcare and other issues, maybe this means he’ll change positions again, to support safe access! But we can’t sit around waiting for Presidential candidates to change their minds while caregivers are arrested and patients lose safe access to their medicine.

    That’s why we are converging on Sacramento next weekend. ASA’s California Unity Conference, and the free Monday lobby day, will build our base, educate our allies and impress the Capitol with the strength of our movement.

    To succeed on the state and federal level, we need your support. Politicians like Mitt Romney need to know that real people are suffering real harm from cruel federal policies - and that state governments are willing to stand up for their citizens’ health.

    Please join us May 19-20 for our conference - only $50 a day gets you lunch and training to be a successful advocate for patients’ rights. Monday May 21, we’ll meet with Assembly and Senate representatives to argue for compassionate use and common-sense regulations. Register today to make a difference in California - and show national politicians how significant this movement is!