Pages tagged "Americans for Safe Access (ASA)"

  • Welcome to Cannabis Activist Summer Camp!

    Howdy-Ho (potential) Campers! A bunch of us here at ASA are just so riled-up over this crazy federal crackdown on safe access, so we decided to start an online activist summer camp called Camp WakeUpObama to give all you medical cannabis advocates out there a fun and easy way to have your voices heard. Signing up for camp is free and easy, just go to www.CampWakeUpObama.com! As your Camp Counselor, I’ve been working really hard to get the camp ready for you. We’ve been coming up with great activities like holding an ASA house party, contacting your elected officials, or even making some fun protest art! The best part is, you can earn cool Facebook badges for your profile, free ASA gear, or even a free trip to ASA’s 1st Annual National Conference in DC this February. All this, and you get the satisfaction of helping make President Obama aware that medical cannabis is an urgent issue that needs to be dealt immediately. As the Camp WakeUpObama Counselor (and ASA’s new National Field Coordinator), I encourage you all to sign up for camp and help us really send a message to the President this summer that medical cannabis is an issue that cannot be ignored! Looking forward to seeing all of you at Camp WakeUpObama this summer! “Camp Counselor” Hunter Holliman Hunter Holliman is the National Field Director of Americans for Safe Access.
  • Wake Up Obama: Cannabis Patients Vote!

    This is a photo of me at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I had just heard one of the most politically motivating speeches of my life from a candidate for president. I was moved to tears, joyous, and inspired. This candidate not only filled me with hope about the future of our nation, but said he would not interfere with access to legal medical cannabis.

    I was ecstatic to be shedding the dark days of the Bush Administration's war on medical cannabis patients. As a patient myself, I felt counted and part of the Change that would be coming to Washington, and I was proud to support and volunteer for Barack Obama's victorious campaign.

    For his 2008 campaign, I donated money, I went to rallies to show support, I knocked on doors in VA,  and on election night I joined thousands in D.C. who descended on the White House to celebrate and sing "Na, Na, Na, Na, Good bye" to President Bush. I went to sleep that night excited about a new direction for this country that would include me as a recognized medical cannabis patient.

    From the beginning, the new administration made supportive statements about medical cannabis, including that the President was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws." On October 19, 2009, we got the policy document we had been waiting for. Then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden issued a memorandum, now know as the "Ogden Memo," instructing U.S. attorneys to limit marijuana enforcement to those operating out of compliance with state law.

    With this legal guidance, the medical cannabis movement went to work to pass new state laws protecting patients and those who provided their medication. Advocates, community members, and officials spent thousands of hours drafting legislation and regulations in at least eleven states. But when legislators and other state and local officials came close to passing or implementing these laws, they received letters from U.S. attorneys, threatening federal arrest and prosecution.

    Dismayed by this apparent reversal in the Obama Administration's policy, patients demanded the President rein in the US Attorneys. Instead we got the "Cole Memo," issued by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, laying out a new interpretation of the Obama Administration's policy. The memo gave the Justice Department free rein in medical cannabis states, to undermine state laws and coerce local lawmakers. The Cole Memo launched an unprecedented attack on the medical cannabis community unprecedented in its scope.

    In fewer then fours years of President Obama, we have seen more raids on dispensaries than during the Bush Administration's entire eight-year tenure. The Obama Administration has taken property from landlords, threatened local officials, forced the release of patient records, used the Internal Revenue Service to bankrupt legitimate dispensaries, told banks to purge medical cannabis clients, evicted patients from low-income housing, and denied a petition to recognize the well-established medical value of cannabis.

    Now as President Obama approaches the vote on his reelection, I and other medical cannabis patients are finding it impossible to renew our support. How can I vote for someone who has broken his promise? How can I vote for someone who can't see very real public health needs? How can I vote for someone who wages war on my fellow patients and me?

    There are more than one million legal medical cannabis patients across the country and millions more waiting to become legal. We have friends and family in every state, and there are many of us in states that are key to the Obama reelection campaign: Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.

    I care a lot about this country and my fellow Americans, and I have always volunteered for candidates during election years. Now, instead of going to rallies or buying tickets to fundraisers, I will be protesting at campaign stops like the one today in downtown Oakland. Instead of working to elect a president, I'll be joining thousands of medical cannabis advocates at Camp Wakeupobama, a virtual summer camp during which we will press our case to the President.

    President Obama, you can move medical cannabis policy forward and win this election - 74% of voters disagree with your attacks on state compassionate use laws.

    Medical cannabis patients will be on the campaign trail, however you can still determine what our signs will say.
  • National News in Review

    A week of national news about medical cannabis, in review. If you live in Northern California, be part of making the news by protesting Obama's crackdown on state-legal dispensaries when he visits Oakland on Monday.
    • Federal Judge Orders Defendant to Stop Taking Marinol - Toke of the Town
    • University of Saskatchewan researchers have discovered the chemical pathway that Cannabis sativa uses to create bioactive compounds called cannabinoids - Phys.org
    • Obama’s Pot Problem - Salon.com
    • Most Active Constitutional Cannabis Lawyer - East Bay Express
    • Truth In Trials Act, Medical Marijuana Protection Bill, Proposed By Bipartisan Group Of Lawmakers - The Huffington Post
    • One in eight with fibromyalgia uses cannabis as medicine - Reuters
    • Obama's Attorney Has Come Unhinged: Melinda Haag's Crusade Against Medical Pot Jeopardizes California's Safety - Steph Sherer in the Huffington Post
  • Cutting through the legal quagmire, patients demand safe and legal access to medical marijuana



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Last Friday, patient advocates Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed an amicus ‘friend of the court’ brief in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Center to convey the urgent need for safe and legal access to medical marijuana. In what is possibly the most important issue currently facing hundreds of thousands of patients in California, ASA urged the State Supreme Court to reject the notion that municipalities can ban local distribution of medical marijuana, thereby cutting off access. Specifically, ASA argued in its brief that:
    While municipalities may pass reasonable regulations over the location and operation of medical marijuana collectives, they cannot ban them absolutely. These bans thwart the Legislature’s stated objectives of ensuring access to marijuana for the seriously ill persons who need it in a uniform manner throughout the state.

    In addition to the Riverside case, the State Supreme Court is reviewing the Pack v. City of Long Beach decision, which involves issues of federal preemption. Adding even more appellate decisions to the mix, last week the Second District issued two conflicting rulings. One of the rulings in County of Los Angeles v. Alternative Medicinal Cannabis Collective held that dispensaries were legal under state law and that municipalities could not ban them.

    At the time, ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford said in a prepared statement that:
    The court of appeal could not have been clearer in expressing that medical marijuana dispensaries are legal under state law, and that municipalities have no right to ban them. This landmark decision should have a considerable impact on how the California Supreme Court rules in the various dispensary cases it’s currently reviewing.

    There are a staggering 178 cities in California that have completely ignored the needs of patients in their community by adopting bans against medical marijuana dispensaries. However, there are more than 50 municipalities, which have adopted regulatory ordinances that have safely and legally accommodated for the needs of their patients, as well as other members of their communities. An increasing number of studies also show that regulating dispensaries will decrease crime and increase the quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods.

    Patient advocates are not putting all their eggs in the California Supreme Court basket. There is still an effort afoot to pass legislation next year to regulate medical marijuana at the state level. The statewide ballot initiative process is yet another option available to patient advocates and one that will definitely be considered in the months ahead.
  • Activist Journalist arrested in Oaksterdam raid to be arraigned

    On April 2, 2012 Jose Alacran Gutierrez was among the throng of protesters and journalists that captured the federal raid on Richard Lee’s Oaksterdam University and Coffee Shop Blue Sky. A veteran Bay Area beat reporter for Pacifica Radio - KPFA’s La Onda Bajita and the nationally syndicated Flashpoints shows, as well as a longtime medical cannabis activist, Mr. Gutierrez was caught up in the raid as it unfolded outside Coffee Shop Blue Sky and brutally arrested by federal agent. He was charges with one federal felony count of forcible assault on a federal officer. He could be facing up to 8 years in prison.

    Over the last decade, hundreds of raids have been conducted where local law enforcement has been used for crowd control, which makes the use of Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and The United States Marshals in the April 2nd raid, an unusual show of force on the part of the federal government.

    Suspicious Arrest

    In addition to their aggressive crowd control tactics, the federal agents busted a window of the premises scattering glass and pushing the activists away from the main door. From the Live Stream there is clear audio and video of activists and spectators identifying which officers started the altercations. The jostling of cameras, phones, and equipment can be heard and seen as federal agents’ renter Coffee Shop Blue Sky. In a matter of seconds, Mr. Gutierrez is being accosted and held down on the ground by at least five federal agents. A shameless expression of pride and shock on his face, as he is lead to the patrol car that activists have blocked with their bodies. Others banged on the car windows after they shove him in, chanting and screaming, “Let him go! Let him go!!!”

    This went on relentlessly as federal agents escorted the unmarked car down the street. Oaklanders watched and recorded the incident in appalling disbelief at the overwhelming act of aggression by the federal agents. The Oscar Grant Case, which originated in Oakland, taught its residents to pull out their cameras when witnessing police aggression. Since there were many witnesses (with recording capability ) to Mr. Gutierrez’s incident most of them have video or still footage leading his defense team to ask the public to post on YouTube in order for the whole truth to be told and the charges dropped. From this footage, it is obvious to the viewer that Mr. Gutierrez suffered injuries that sent him to the hospital due to the five or so agents rushing to subdue his alleged assault.

    Out of the three arrests made that day, only Jose Gutierrez was taken into Federal custody. Two activists that were arrested by Oakland Police during the Oaksterdam Raid were released and the Alameda County District Attorney’s office filed no charges.

    Blurred Lines of Activism versus Journalism

    For over twenty years, Jose Alacran Gutierrez has been a leftist leaning political radio correspondent giving a voice to the Chicano and cannabis communities. In regards to sensitive controversial issues like the legalization of medical cannabis, Pacifica Radio reporters and programmers are given an opportunity like no other in journalism, to actively participate in the causes, organizations, and struggles of the communities they represent. These stories usually fall outside the corporate media model. By following the stories from the Humboldt Hills to East Oakland where houses and beyond staying on the beat of the cannabis legalization movement, Jose Alacran Gutierrez has been a catalyst for the dissemination of vital information to these communities.

    We must remember, throughout history oppressive governments have used beatings and arrests to suppress the will of the people. Ghandi was beaten and arrested. Malcolm X was beaten and arrested. Martin Luther King was beaten and arrested. More people are going to be beaten and arrested, but how many more will be marginalized? When members of the Department of Justice are taking these extreme actions, like aggressively subduing journalists, closing educational facilities like Oaksterdam, and raiding permitted dispensaries, someone has to ask, when will enough be enough? These are important questions that need to be answered not only by the people that have the power to conduct these raids and stop them, but also by those of us who have the power to speak out against blatant injustices that are happening on a regular basis in the medicinal cannabis community and beyond.

    Show support in federal court

    Jose will be back in Federal Court on July 13th, 2012 at 9:30am, 1301 Clay Street in Oakland, 3rd Floor, Room 4. His case will be heard once again by Judge Donna Ryu. Court support is appreciated; bring valid identification, and do not bring anything you that you would not want x-rayed or otherwise examined by federal police.

    Sabrina Jacobs is a journalist.
  • Medical cannabis researcher explains recent scientific review

    The article "Medical Marijuana: Clearing Away the Smoke" by Grant, Atkinson, Gouaux, and Wilsey published this month in Bentham Science's 5-year-old, peer-reviewed, National Library of Medicine-indexed and internationally edited Open Neurology Journal represents a major milestone in the consolidation of knowledge and regularizing of clinical practice with regards to the medicinal use of cannabis.

    The authors, well-established faculty members or associates at leading American academic medical centers, have yet again reviewed the gold-standard clinical trials-based evidence for medical uses of cannabis and related cannabinoids and have found:

    1. that it is inaccurate to say that cannabis lacks medical utility or that information on its safety is lacking

    2. that judgments on relative benefits and risks of cannabis and cannabinoids as medicines need to be viewed within the broader context of risk-benefit of other standard agents as well, many of which are associated with more serious adverse events, and

    3. that enough information and clinical experience exists that an algorithm can be constructed to guide decision-making for physicians who may be considering recommending medicinal cannabis to patients with neuropathic pain, which the authors offer.


    The authors conclude that "it will be useful if marijuana and its constituents can be prescribed, dispensed, and regulated in a manner similar to other medications that have psychotropic effects and some abuse potential" and state that marijuana's Schedule I classification is scientifically untenable and the greatest barrier to forward movement in this area of medicine and medical science. This conclusion is made all the more noteworthy given that the article's first, second, and fourth authors disclose at the end of the manuscript that they have served as consultants and received financial support from major pharmaceutical companies.

    Americans for Safe Access is part of a lawsuit challenging the DEA’s scheduling of marijuana as without any currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Download our lawsuit at http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Appeal.pdf

    Sunil Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., PGY-3, is a Housestaff Physician at NYU Medical Center and conducts research on the medical geography of cannabis.
  • Democratic Party grassroots break with Obama on cannabis

    In a sign that the Obama Administration’s tough line on state medical cannabis laws is out of touch with his grassroots support, local Democratic Party organizations are formally endorsing medical marijuana laws - and even legalization.

    The North Carolina Democratic Party is formally in support of a compassionate use law in this key swing state. At the state’s June 16th convention, party officials adopted a resolution (PDF) titled, In Support of Legalizing Medical Marijuana in North Carolina. The state party also adopted a resolution in favor of industrial hemp growing.

    In California, the Democratic Central Committees of San Francisco and Alameda Counties, whose combined population is over two million, passed resolutions condemning federal government raids on local dispensaries. In addition to these statements from Democratic organizations in favor of medical cannabis, the Texas, Colorado, and Washington State Democratic Parties have adopted marijuana decriminalization or legalization resolutions.

    With the American electorate almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, President Obama needs the full support of Democratics to win reelection. Will grassroots opposition to the administration policy toward medical cannabis split the party? As national Democrats prepare to convene in September, we will watch for new developments.

    Jonathan Bair is ASA's Social Media Coordinator, as well as an officer of his local Democratic Club.
  • New Hampshire native: Allow compassionate use in the Granite State

    Note from Steph - this is an open letter to the New Hampshire legislature urging them to overturn Governor Lynch's veto of a compassionate use bill.

    Dear Senators,

    Experience is something legislators rely on when making important decisions. Please consider my significant medical experience with Crohn’s disease, cancer and Social Security disability when voting on to overturn Governor Lynch’s veto of SB 409, the medical marijuana bill.

    I am a New Hampshire native, born in 1948 in Whitefield, where I had many fond memories growing up. During the summer of my junior year of high school in 1964, we moved to northern Massachusetts. Within months of moving to Massachusetts, I became an alcoholic at age 16. I was kicked off the basketball team during my senior year in my new town, for drinking. Arrests for “minor in possession, fighting, siphoning gas”, etc. followed.So, at the encouragement of my parents, I joined the Navy, where I scored well on exams and was assigned to an Admiral’s staff in Oakland. I kept an apartment in San Francisco and continued to drink.

    It was on a Navy base in 1967 when I first experienced marijuana, but mostly I drank and used the methamphetamine capsules that the corpsmen passed out to us in large bottles, if we requested it. Amongst those three, marijuana always seemed the least destructive, but I preferred booze. By the time I was thirty five in 1985; I finally surrendered to the disease and entered an alcohol treatment program in San Diego. Thankfully, it worked; I haven’t had a drink or drug to for non-medical use since 1985.

    Experiences - disease, tradition medicine, and medical marijuana

    In 1996, I moved to Santa Fe, NM, where I soon had another disease to contend with, Crohn’s. I was stricken with a vicious attack on my body which continued for the next ten years. Hideous side effects were common, including a perianal fistula and five skin cancer surgeries, including a stage two melanoma. The VA hospital assembled a tumor board of five specialists and operated on my face quickly - I am so grateful the care I received.

    Most of my doctors agree with me (at least off-record) that the melanoma was likely because my immune system was so compromised from the years of drugs, drugs that were designed to suppress it. My Crohn’s reached a level that I was visiting my toilet about thirty times a day/night, for about a year - approximately 10,950 bowel experiences in a year. For the second time since 1999, I had lost 50 -60 pounds in a matter of weeks.

    In 2005, I closed my business in Santa Fe and moved 150 miles north to Pagosa Springs, CO, trying to continue my RE career. My savings were becoming depleted and I couldn’t work effectively. I had to apply for Social Security Disability in 2008 – after dealing with a severe case of Crohn’s (four surgeries) since 1999 – it was quickly granted. Again, I am grateful for the care I received.

    Even if Recovering from Alcoholism, Medical Cannabis is Good Medicine

    I had lived (and suffered) in Colorado for three and a half years before I heard of the medical marijuana law. Nothing else had helped, but I was leery of trying it, because of my problems with addictions. AA teaches that any mind altering substance can trigger those addictive impulses. Nevertheless, I was desperate. I called a doctor and he was willing to sign for me to get a medical marijuana card.

    At that time the only source I knew of for the medicine was a shadowy guy in Durango, literally in an alleyway apartment. I put on my Depends and drove over there –scared of the police and what might happen to my 23 years of continuous sobriety. Medical marijuana was supposed to be legal, but it sure didn’t feel like it to me back then before Colorado dispensaries became actual stores instead of alleyways.

    I went home and medicated. The vapors immediately started to open some of the blockages in my intestinal tract and I knew there was some hope, for the first time in 11 years. The VA recommended removing my colon and rectum, leaving a pouch, just months earlier - I’m certainly glad that I didn’t allow it. Within three months I was able to wean myself off of prescription drugs and I knew that I was going to reclaim my life from this disease.

    My VA doctors were initially skeptical about my new therapy, but they had no better suggestions – now they are pleased that I’m no longer dying a slow death, at taxpayer expense.

    Sick Patients Need an Override, not Another Excuse

    You have a huge decision before you and I implore you, please don’t deprive sick people of the opportunity that I had. Instead, please focus on the documented facts of people who have been healed, or helped in seventeen states and DC. If you, as Senators, accept it as a medicine, then you have to allow accessibility. Please don’t tease a dying person and not deliver a reality for them, we are so close to bringing relief to those who need it. Please vote to overturn Governorn Lynch’s veto of SB 409.

    I come from a large blended Irish family (eight kids) of mostly conservative, successful people – but they are sure glad that I’m not dying anymore. Please consider us, when voting.

    Yearning to return to the state of my birth - to live free, not die.

    Bill Delany

    Bill Delany is the owner of Good Earth Meds, a dispensary in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
  • The fight for regulations in CA goes on



    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our allies have been fighting for medical cannabis regulations to protect safe access to medicine and patients’ rights since 2002, and we are going to keep fighting that important battle despite a setback today. Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF) has withdrawn AB2312, a bill that would have created a state board to regulate medical cannabis cultivation and provision. That means AB 2312 will not proceed to a vote by the full Senate this year.

    We have come a long way towards passing this bill, and our growing coalition of allies is poised to move forward at the ballot box or in the legislature next year. Polls show that 77% of Californians support regulation and control of medical cannabis, and AB 2312 had some influential support. UFCW National Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division, UFCW  Western States Council, UFCW Local 5, the AFL-CIO, and the California Medical Association all supported the bill.


    Research conducted by ASA and sixteen years of experience show that sensible regulations for medical cannabis preserve community-based access for patients, while reducing crime and complaints around cooperatives and collectives. Although more than fifty localities in California have adopted such regulations, a lack of state leadership has stymied further implementation of the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420) in communities statewide. Uncertainty led to calls from the courts, the California Attorney General, and local lawmakers for leadership and clarity. AB 2312 would have helped answer those calls by securing safe, well-regulated access all over California.

    We made it further this year than anyone thought we would. No one expected this bill to be approved by two committees and the full Assembly. The credit for that goes, in large part, to more than 300 ASA members and allies who visited every legislative office in the Capitol on May 21st, as part of the biggest medical cannabis lobby day in California history. Those citizen advocates were talking with lawmakers and staff just days before crucial votes on AB 2312, and their voices made all the difference.

    Many good bills take more than a year to pass. We can definitely use a few extra months to improve this bill for next year. We need to be sure that taxation, if necessary, is limited; and we have to make it difficult (or impossible) for cities and counties to ban patients’ associations outright. We also have a lot of work to do to build support among legislators and constituents. And given that many people fear statewide regulation, we can use this extra time to keep talking about the benefits and drawbacks of a state model, in hopes of broadening the reform coalition. We must also decide whether the voter initiative process is a sound strategy in California, and if We can we agree on the content and raise the money we need to get on the ballot in 2013 or 2014.

    I want all of you to be a part of that ongoing conversation about what comes next in California. Please sign up for ASA’s announcement lists, participate in our Discussion Forums, and follow our blog.

    I want to say a very special thank you to our allies at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana – United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 5, California NORML, Emerald Growers Association, and the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform. You guys did a great job! I also want to say a special thank you to Assemblymember Tom Amnmiano and his staff for their hard work and patience. And most of all, thank you to the thousands of ASA members and friends who wrote letters, sent emails, signed petitions, visited lawmakers, and donated generously to this effort. That is what it takes to get this work done!
  • DEA’s Leonhart says “We will look at any options for reducing drug addiction,” but what about medical marijuana?



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Administrator Michele Leonhart has created quite a controversy with her comments on medical marijuana made last Wednesday during a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) House oversight hearing. From her bumbling response to Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) on the issue of addiction and comparing medical marijuana to the harmful effects of other Schedule I substances like heroin or methamphetamine, to her commonsense response to Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) on leaving the question of medical marijuana treatment, “between [a patient] and his doctor,” Leonhart illustrated her illogical approach to medical marijuana as a public health issue.

    Notably, toward the end of Rep. Polis’s examination, he asked Leonhart if she was “willing to look at the use of medical marijuana as a way of reducing abuse of prescription drugs,” given that reducing prescription drug abuse is the DEA’s top priority. Leonhart candidly responded:
    We will look at any options for reducing drug addiction.

    Well, Administrator Leonhart, you’re in luck. There is indeed evidence that shows patients using medical marijuana to reduce or eliminate their addictive and often-harmful pharmaceutical drug regimen.

    Just this month, eminent medical marijuana researcher Philippe Lucas, M.A. published an article in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs called, “Cannabis as an Adjunct to or Substitute for Opiates in the Treatment of Chronic Pain.” According to Lucas, “Evidence is growing that cannabis [medical marijuana] can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, presenting a safe and viable alternative or adjunct to pharmaceutical opiates.”

    As if directly addressing Leonhart’s statement to Rep. Polis, and her concern over prioritizing prescription drug addiction, Lucas notes that:
    Addiction to pharmaceutical opiates has been noted by the medical community as one of the common side-effects of extended use by patients (such as those suffering from chronic pain), and a growing body of research suggests that some of the biological actions of cannabis and cannabinoids may be useful in reducing this dependence.

    Lucas further argues that, “[R]esearch on substitution effect suggests that cannabis may be effective in reducing the use and dependence of other substances of abuse such as illicit opiates, stimulants and alcohol.”
    As such, there is reason to believe that a strategy aiming to maximize the therapeutic potential benefits of both cannabis and pharmaceutical cannabinoids by expanding their availability and use could potentially lead to a reduction in the prescription use of opiates, as well as other potentially dangerous pharmaceutical analgesics, licit and illicit substances, and thus a reduction in associated harms.

    Another article on the effects of medical marijuana “substitution” was published in December 2009 by the Harm Reduction Journal. Researcher Amanda Reiman MSW, PhD notes that medical marijuana patients have long been engaging in substitution by using it as an alternative to alcohol, prescription and illicit drugs. In a study Reiman conducted with 350 medical marijuana patients, she found that 40 percent reported using medical marijuana as a substitute for alcohol, twenty-six percent reported using it as a substitute for illicit drugs, and nearly 66 percent use it as a substitute for prescription drugs.
    [S]ixty five percent reported using cannabis as a substitute because it has less adverse side effects than alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, 34% use it as a substitute because it has less withdrawal potential…57.4% use it as a substitute because cannabis provides better symptom management.

    If Leonhart is serious about combating prescription drug abuse, she should heed the conclusions of researchers like Lucas and Reiman and pay attention to the evidence. Answers to two important public health concerns -- medical marijuana and prescription drug abuse -- lie at her feet waiting to be addressed.