Pages tagged "Americans for Safe Access (ASA)"

  • New Colorado Medical Marijuana Regulations Disregard Patient Privacy

    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a letter Friday, commenting on the proposed rulemaking (or regulations) for amendments to Colorado’s medical marijuana law. The State Licensing Authority of the Colorado Department of Revenue, Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division is currently accepting public input to help guide its policy efforts. Advocates applaud Colorado’s effort to improve its law by bringing greater access to medical marijuana for seriously ill patients in the state. Input by the public and, more importantly, the patient community is critically important to a well functioning law. However, ASA takes issue with several provisions of the law and the current proposed rules, and is most concerned about a seeming disregard for patient privacy. In particular, the rulemaking provisions that allow law enforcement unfettered access to surveillance information is very troubling given marijuana’s legal status under federal law and the continued enforcement of those laws by the Obama Administration. In fact, the Justice Department is currently in federal court seeking the private records of several Michigan patients, after having been rebuffed by the Michigan Community Health Department. ASA is also concerned with how available private patient records are to an increasing number of people, including court clerks and other court staff. Access to this information must be extremely restricted, and medical marijuana patients, like other patients, should be able to enjoy the full protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Although the deadline for written submissions closed on Friday, there will be another opportunity to give oral comment on January 27th and 28th, starting at 9am in Hearing Room 1 of the Jefferson County Justice Center Administration and Courts Facility at 100 Jefferson County Parkway, Golden, Colorado.
  • Momentum in Massachusetts

    Guest blog by MMPA Organizer Matt Allen - In Massachusetts, optimism and ambition are high among medical marijuana advocates as the new legislative session is starting up.  Turnout at our stakeholder's meeting November (facilitated by ASA Executive Director Steph Shrer) exceeded expectations, helped us build connections amongst one another, and left everyone motivated to take action and work together to pass medical marijuana reform in the next two years.  In addition the meeting provided Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance with valuable information about the hopes and concerns of the medical marijuana advocacy community that we were able to relate to Chairman Smizik, lead sponsor of the medical marijuana bill that will be filed, and a long time supporter of our cause.  Individual patients and family members who want to see Massachusetts catch up to other states in the region like Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine, are now contacting their state reps and asking them to cosponsor the medical marijuana bill that will be filed next week.  We accomplished a lot last year through outreach at community events and lobbying legislators as well as seeking support from other public health groups.  But our coalition wasn't even founded until the middle of last session.  This time we are organized and will be able to present a unified grassroots presence at the state house from day one.  As the organizer for MPAA I've already had the opportunity to join some patients on visits to their reps to discuss the issue, and it has been awesome!  We are getting the message out that this is a real public health issue and that its wrong to deny patients their medicine.  Legislators are listening, and the public is behind us.  And we are growing!  Visit us at masscompassion.org to follow the campaign in Massachusetts, or e-mail [email protected] if you're a Massachusetts resident who wants to get more involved.
  • It IS a Chronic Problem

    On September 8, 2010, several search warrants were executed at dispensaries across Las Vegas.  Federal agents, assisted by local law enforcement, seized medicine, cash, and closed these dispensaries, proving that the Obama Administration AND the Department of Justice are not agencies of their word. On December 17, 2010, 3 criminal complaints were filed behind closed doors in federal court, and on January 6, 2011, these complaints were unsealed and 15 arrest warrants were issued.  Providers across Las Vegas and the entire state are under attack.  The joint task force is calling this siege Operation Chronic Problem.  Well, at least they've got one thing right.  Federal interference with state implementation of medical marijuana laws has been, and continues to be, a chronic problem. Stay tuned for news about this case, and we'll keep you in the loop about our next action to DEMAND an end to these raids and prosecutions. For the complaints, see here, here, and here. For more information about the arrests, see here and here.
  • Happy New Year!

    Happy New Year from Americans for Safe Access (ASA)!

    We look forward to working with all of our members and friends to promote safe and affordable access for every patient in 2011. Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment.
  • Aggressive Police Actions Taken Against SLO Medical Marijuana Delivery Services

    A Narcotics Task Force (NTF) made up of local and state law enforcement agencies aggressively raided 5 collectively-run San Luis Obispo County medical marijuana delivery services on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, arresting at least 13 people on felony charges and holding them on bails of up to $100,000. Several of those arrested were charged with child endangerment, after Child Protective Services (CPS) removed at least 6 children from the homes of 3 different families. One of the people arrested on Monday suffered a heart attack because of the police raid and was taken to a local emergency room before being arrested. As of Thursday afternoon, at least four people were still in jail unable to raise bail. Read the ASA press release for more information.
  • Happy Holidays from ASA!

    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) wishes all of our members and friends a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season! What better way to share the holiday spirit than gifts that promote safe access? Giving ASA gear to your family and friends helps spread the message of change. And all the proceeds go to fight for patients rights and advance safe access for everyone. For gifts that make a difference, checkout ASA's online store today!
  • San Diego Dispensary Operator Sentenced, Advocates Vow to Appeal

    On Wednesday, San Diego Superior Court Judge Howard H. Shore told a crowded courtroom of patient advocates:
    “Medical marijuana is a scam.”

    [caption id="attachment_1101" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Jovan Jackson (right) and attorney Lance Rogers at Jackson's sentencing"]
    [/caption]

    During his vitriolic rants, Judge Shore found time to sentence Jovan Jackson, a dispensary operator who was recently convicted after being denied a defense at trial. Judge Shore harshly sentenced Jackson to 180 days in jail, and imposed a $5,000 fine and three years of probation, during which time Jackson is prohibited from using marijuana to legally treat his medical condition.

    Unsurprisingly, Judge Shore also denied ASA’s motion for a new trial, based on double jeopardy and the denial of Jackson’s defense. This was the second time Jackson had been tried on the same charges-- the first time he was acquitted. Not satisfied with just skirting double jeopardy laws, San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis fought to exclude Jackson’s defense on the most dubious grounds. Though not written into law, nor part of the 2008 California Attorney General guidelines on medical marijuana, the court held that most or all of Jackson’s patient membership must participate in the cultivation to be afforded a defense.

    Judge Shore’s contempt for medical marijuana could also be seen in other ways than just his bombastic statements from the bench. For example, patients were required to pass through a second metal detector placed directly outside the courtroom, a requirement unique to Jackson’s hearing. And, although there was no jury to influence at Jackson’s sentencing hearing, his supporters were once again prevented from brandishing Americans for Safe Access (ASA) logos on their shirts or bags, as if doing so would injure the court’s sensibilities. Judge Shore had imposed similar restrictions during Jackson’s trial.

    Judge Shore also ignored -- at his own peril -- the recent Los Angeles Superior Court decision and its affirmation of dispensaries’ right to operate in accordance with local and state laws. To make the laws less ambiguous, the LA court recommended more decisive regulations, rather than impeding the efforts of the patient community. Contradicting Judge Shore’s interpretation of state law, the LA court ruled in its unpublished decision that the Medical Marijuana Program Act,
    “does not deal with issues like who must be involved in the cultivation…”

    The irony of San Diego’s failed efforts to adopt a meaningful regulatory ordinance is not lost on the city’s patients. The San Diego City Council has been trying unsuccessfully to pass a local law for months, a law that would license the same activity for which Jackson was just convicted and sentenced. Coincidence? Whether or not foul play can be attributed, the patient community is demanding reasonable regulations to set a standard for the area’s dozens of dispensaries to meet.

    In the meantime, ASA will be appealing Jackson’s conviction and sentencing well before he is scheduled to surrender to authorities on February 1st. ASA will also argue for Jackson’s release on bail pending appeal. Stay tuned for more from San Diego in the fight for safe access.
  • With Great Hope

    Another year is winding down and our movement has added more amazing victories to our impressive list. From taking down anti-medical marijuana AG candidate Steve Cooley to passing access regulations in Washington DC, ASA has shown the power of grassroots patient advocacy. With a new year looming, this is a great time to reflect and to think about what the future will bring. As a patient advocate, this is the time that I think about how I personally contributed to creating safe and legal access and what that commitment will look like next year. As Executive Director of ASA, it is my job and commitment to our members to look at the national landscape and to prepare our movement for the challenges and opportunities coming.  Part of that preparation this year was traveling across the country, taking the pulse of our movement by hosting five and six hour-long strategic planning meetings with our community.  In every city, I met individuals with medical conditions that made every moment of their life a struggle as well as individuals at the end of their lives - MS patients with months to live, women whose cancer had progressed passed treatment, a forty year old with ALS so severe he needed specialized equipment to communicate. Over and over again I was moved to tears by the passion and commitment of our members. Members who may not be around to see the results of their organizing but still want to be a part of change. Members who, despite great discomfort, are advocating so that YOU and I can have safe access. As a member of ASA, you are connecting these individuals into a movement. As a member of ASA, you are making sure that our patient advocates have the resources they need to be effective and strategic. We held meetings with our communities this year because we thought that was the right way to win; now we know that it’s the only way to win. Safe and legal access will only happen if WE, the movement, make it happen. We’re in a unique position this year to take your voice to the top. We have political capital built up and we’re ready to spend it. Because of our wins last year, your contribution today will go further than it ever has before. Help us take your voice to DC. We all have a role in this movement. I’ve told you about the passion and commitment of those at the end of their lives, those with the very least to gain and the invaluable role they’re playing. I believe one of my roles is to create a world where our terminally ill do not spend the last months of their lives in six-hour policy meetings and we need your contribution to make that happen. So the question now is, can you fulfill that role? Can you sacrifice a fraction of what they have given so that we can build a safer, fairer world? Thank you, as always, for your generous support. I wish for your happiness in the new year.
  • LA Patients Protest County Ban



    Fifty medical cannabis patients and advocates protested in front of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ meeting this morning in response to the Board’s 4-1 vote to ban medical cannabis collectives in unincorporated communities. Protesters cheered as motorists honked in support, including one Los Angeles Police Department squad car. Supervisor Michael Antonovich proposed the ban earlier this year, in response to concerns over public safety and a handful of non-permitted collectives in the county.



    The Board voted unanimously to adopt regulations in 2006, but the Regional Planning Commission has never issued a Conditional Use Permit for medical cannabis. Today’s ban is part of a statewide effort by law enforcement and medical cannabis opponents to push back on safe access. Orange County banned collectives at the same time as Los Angeles County, and Supervisors in Riverside County have abandoned plans to repeal the county’s ban. Fresno and Santa Barbara counties may not be far behind.

    Today’s protest in Los Angeles is the first step in what may be a long campaign to change Supervisors’ minds. Americans for safe Access (ASA) and advocates are planning to counter opposition to medical cannabis by keeping the need for regulations on the front burner. They will be speaking at Board meetings, writing elected officials, and visiting county offices to keep the pressure on.  Advocates who wish to help should attend the LA-ASA chapter meeting on Saturday, December 18.

    Read the ASA Press Release for today's protest on the ASA website.
  • CA Supreme Court Denies Law Enforcement Request to Review Landmark Case

    After years of wrangling in the Court of Appeal, medical marijuana patients, on August 18, 2010, obtained a published decision affirming that federal law does not preempt California law regarding medical marijuana collectives.  Dissatisfied with this outcome, numerous law enforcement organizations, including:  five former DEA Administrators, the Drug Free America Foundation, and the California State Sheriff’s Association, along with numerous cities and counties, filed requests for the California Supreme Court grant review and reach an opposite conclusion.  On Thursday, this came to and end, as six of the seven Justices of the California Supreme Court voted to decline review. This denial of review bodes well for medical marijuana patients, as there are now at least four published decisions affirming that federal law does not preempt California’s medical marijuana laws.  This has been an argument made by numerous localities to avoid abiding by California’s medical marijuana laws.  Although this latest decision does not officially put the matter to rest, it signals that the California Supreme Court does not seem to buy the federal preemption argument.  Chalk one up for the patients.