Pages tagged "ASA Activism"


Vote Medical Marijuana this November

It is less than two months until the 2014 elections. Do you know where the candidates stand on medical cannabis? It matters. Lawmakers at the local, state, and federal level are going to make important decisions about medical cannabis that affect your life in the next two years. Cities and counties will decide whether to ban or regulate patients’ collectives, the state legislature will vote again on commercial licensing and patients’ rights measures, and the new US Congress may decide whether or not to keep paying for medical cannabis enforcement.

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Taking your seat at the table in California - August 12

There is an important conversation about medical cannabis happening in Sacramento right now. That conversation will affect how medical cannabis patients get their medicine, who regulates the field, whether or not every community will have safe and dignified access, and more. Will you have a seat at the table? Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our coalition partners at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana (CRMM) want to make sure you do. Join us in Sacramento for an important citizen lobby day at the state Capitol on Monday, August 12, to be heard.

Our previous lobby days have been effective in moving the ball down the field for sensible statewide medical cannabis regulation, but there is still a lot of work to be done to pass a bill this year. The next lobby day comes at a crucial juncture in the legislative process and at a time when grassroots support for moving forward is badly needed. We need to make a strong showing on August 12, so that lawmakers know that voters in their legislative districts support regulation. Otherwise, they will only be hearing from lobbyists representing divergent views on medical cannabis – law enforcement, local government, industry interests, and others. Patients and their advocates need to be part of that conversation, or our interests may be crowded out!

Lawmakers need to hear from you face-to-face. When you register for the California Summer Lobby Day on August 12, ASA will make an appointment for you to meet your state Assemblymember and Senator or his or her staff that afternoon. There are 120 legislative offices to visit. If we are in most or all of those offices on August 12, the impact will be significant. Help us make it happen.

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Compassionate Idaho is Now a Chapter of ASA

We have Exciting news to share!! Compassionate Idaho is now a chapter of Americans For Safe Access (ASA)! This is exciting for us for a number of reasons but it is an honor to be a chapter of such a renowned organization. ASA has worked at the Federal and State Levels for Years and is Very active in helping protect patients from arrest, prosecution, and forfeiture. They Demand Safe Access for Patients Now! They have even sued our Federal Government to try to reschedule cannabis to a lower level to recognize it's medical value. They take the 'legalization for recreation' out of the debate and focus on the patients and their needs. Currently there is a 'Peace For Patients Campaign' running. Clearly this is a Great fit for Compassionate Idaho and we couldn't be happier about it!

This means a lot to us on many levels. We will have more resources in general. They can help us with fundraisers and campaigns. They can help with training our activists to be Extremely efficient with their tools. They provide access to doctors that are experts in their fields and have vast knowledge for cannabis and the human body. Their 'About' page says it best.

"Founded ASA in 2002, Americans for Safe Access is the largest organization of Patients, medical professionals, scientists, and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis. We engage a multifaceted strategy public education, impact litigation, grassroots development and advocacy, media campaigns, and direct support services.



Until there is safe access, We are Americans for Safe Access."

Whenever someone joins ASA and joins the Compassionate Idaho Chapter we will benefit and so will ASA, and we believe that the Idaho Chapter will be the biggest Chapter for any organization for medical marijuana reform in the state! We will have access and support to educational sources and all of their vast resources. They, in turn, will have a new Chapter in a new State, that is Completely in support of what they do and grateful to have them! We hope that we can help build their network while we expand and educate, and of course, run the petition. By joining ASA you are supporting reform at both the state And Federal Levels. There are several campaigns currently running and we encourage going to their website and learn more about them at: www.americansforsafeaccess.org.

Joining Americans for Safe Access gives us something that has been a LONG time coming! We will now fall under their 501c4!! We can officially say that we are a Non-profit! And so can you when you hit our 'Donate' button! We have operated as a non-profit for a long time and have had our records in order the entire time to prepare for this. The time is here!! So, Please hit the Donate Button!

We have a new 9 Person Board for our Steering Committee with myself, Lindsey Rinehart voted in as Chair, Josh Rinehart voted in as Vice Chair, Sarah Caldwell voted in as Treasurer, James Richardson voted in as Secretary, Lauren Leonard voted in as Vice Secretary, Bill Esbensen as vote in as Outreach, April Brown voted in as Event Coordinator, Jared Dunn voted in as Education Outreach, and Coty Ternes voted in as Technology Specialist. We already have several 'Founding Chapter Members' who helped with the voting process and were part of the nomination pool. Of course we want as many members as possible so Please join ASA Today here and select Idaho. Eventually it will be changed to reflect that Compassionate Idaho is the option and leave room for more chapters. We are hoping to have several sub-chapters throughout the state! A portion of your donation to them will be remitted to us!

Every Compassionate Idaho meeting is now a Compassionate Idaho Chapter of ASA meeting. Every training, every potluck, every educational forum, every Volunteer Meet and Greet. Anything that Compassionate Idaho does also represents ASA!! This is a Huge step forward in reform for medical marijuana in Idaho and we hope that you will join us in our excitement and join today!! Of course you don't Have to be an ASA member to be a Compassionate Idaho Supporter and we don't want Anyone to feel that they can't participate with us due to not having an ASA membership!! Please understand we don't want to lose anyone at all. Joining ASA is Great but if you can't, we certainly understand and still want you to stand with us! Joining ASA will propel us forward but we certainly don't intend on leaving Anyone behind!

Please look for new updates, new posts, new pages on the website, and much more in the Very near future and Please join ASA with us if you can! We would Love to have you in Our Chapter!


Regulate Pot, Don’t Prosecute It



It seems that area law enforcement has not yet learned the value of working WITH the local community.

Thursday's raid on The Greener Side, a medical marijuana resource center, can hardly be considered a top priority. With law enforcement services severely cut across the state, surely there are more dangerous individuals threatening community safety than a group of medical marijuana patients.

Besides the raid in Eugene, it has been reported that after a two year investigation, up to 70 law enforcement officers were used in concurrent raids in southern Oregon.

In August of last year a woman in Josephine County called 911 as a man who had previously assaulted her was breaking into her home. The dispatcher had to tell the woman there was no one to send. The county had laid off 23 deputies because of budget cuts.



In Oregon in 2010 (according to OSP statistics) there were 1,246 reported forcible rapes - yet only 243 arrests were made. How long will Oregon voters stand for our po

lice and sheriffs kowtowing to the federal drug war bureaucracy?

How long before Oregon legislators and voters figure out the simple economics of cannabis regulation over cannabis persecution?

How long before Oregon's leaders disavows this  federal lunacy and acts to PROTECT patients instead of throwing them under the Prohibition bus?

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This was also published in the Registered  Guard

CA Supreme Court ruling puts the ball in our court



The California Supreme Court ruled on Monday that medical cannabis dispensaries are legal under state law, but cities and counties can still ban them. The decision in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center is disappointing, but it is not the end of the fight for safe and dignified access to medicine in approximately two hundred communities where patients' associations are banned. The Supreme Court pointed out that "nothing prevents future efforts by the Legislature, or by the People, to adopt a different approach." That means the ball is in your court now.

Ask your California lawmakers to protect safe access for every legal patient by adopting statewide regulations based on our "Principles of Sensible Medical Cannabis Regulation." Two measures before the state legislature seek to regulate medical cannabis activity – AB 473 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and SB 439 by Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). Act now to be sure these two measures, which are still being finalized by lawmakers, reflect what patients and other medical cannabis stakeholders want to see.



Almost one hundred members of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our allies hit the halls of the State Capitol Building on Monday to take our pro-regulation message directly to our elected Representatives. The California Medical Cannabis Policy Summit and Lobby day was a success, but we need to stay at the table as the legislative session continues. You can ask your Assemblymember and Senator to adopt sensible regulations whether or not you were at the Capitol this week. Send a message right now.

ASA will be rolling out new programs this summer to help patients and advocates fight local bans with new legislation and voter initiatives. Your participation and support will be the key to success in Sacramento and in communities statewide. You can start helping by joining ASA or making an additional contribution right now. 

I want to say a special thank you to everyone who attended the summit and lobby day, and especially to our sponsors – California NORML, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Bay Area Safe Alternatives, Greater Los Angeles Collectives Alliance, Emerald Growers Association, Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, Berkeley Patients Group, Crusaders for Patients Rights, Good Fellows Smoke Shop, and Desert Organic Solutions Collective.

Thank you for acting to support regulations and fighting with ASA for safe access for everyone.


Activist Spotlight: Bunny Hethcox, Columbus, Wisconsin



Bunny Hethcox is a 54-year-old mother of two and grandmother of six. A real estate broker for 17 years, Bunny taught her kids drugs were bad. But Bunny also suffers from fibromyalgia, PTSD, depression and anxiety, and one day while driving with her son, she had a bad panic attack and was unable to find her xanax. After pulling over, sweating and shaking, her son pulled a joint from his pocket and said “I think you need this more than I do.” It took her a minute to decide whether to yell at him or try it, but once she did, she discovered that cannabis calmed her considerably.

Hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, Demerol and various other drugs had failed to ease the pain of her fibromyalgia, but after using medical cannabis for several months for her anxiety, she found that the pain lifted and her intense PTSD symptoms became tolerable. That got her doing some research on cannabis and the history of its prohibition.



Last January, she got involved with politics for the first time, doing a lobby day at the Wisconsin state capitol. After a disappointing visit with her representative, she decided to find help changing the law. She came across the ASA website only ten minutes before the deadline for scholarship applications to ASA’s National Conference in Washington D.C., but got it in on time.  She got the scholarship, and off she went to DC for the first time, worried about flying alone and what she’d find at the conference.

After meeting doctors, scientists, lawyers and leaders of medical research from the Netherlands, Canada and Israel she knew she needed to do what she could to help people get safe and legal access. She asked how to start an ASA chapter in Wisconsin, and on April 13, Bunny held the first meeting.

“We are now on our way to help Wisconsin become a legal State,” she says. “I have two choices, live in pain and suffer with anxiety and depression by keeping the law or break the law by medicating myself with cannabis to live a normal life. I choose cannabis.”


Why I am Going to Sacramento

Nothing happens in the state legislature just because it should. Sometimes laws get passed because those with a financial interest in the outcome influence lawmakers. In some cases, political favors get traded to get something done. And all too often, lobbyists are the only voices lawmakers hear when they make choices that affect citizens. That is what is happening with medical cannabis in Sacramento right now, and I hope you will join me there next month to change that conversation for the better.

Medical cannabis patients and other stakeholders are meeting in Sacramento May 4-6 for the California Medical Cannabis Policy Summit and Lobby Day. The goals of the event are to develop strategies and skills necessary to adopt beneficial legislation for medical cannabis this year, and to take that message to lawmakers in person. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our partners at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana (CRMM); a coalition of patients, cultivators, organized labor, and others; is organizing this event to be sure that patients are at the table when important decisions about regulating medical cannabis are made this year.



You can help shape the future. Last year, we brought hundreds of patients to the State Capitol and helped push medical cannabis legislation further than anyone thought possible. Lawmakers noticed our grassroots coalition and started to take us more seriously. We need that influence now more than ever. Bills to regulate cultivation, distribution, and testing of medical cannabis are on the table right now. Proposals about additional taxation are on the way. We cannot afford to be silent right now. Someone is going to influence lawmakers on good and bad legislation this year. If it is not you, it will be lobbyists, law enforcement, and others who want to roll back safe access in California.

We will have a special fundraising reception on Saturday night, and then spend all day Sunday building strategies and skills for the citizen lobby day on Monday. We will start on Monday with a press conference, and then we hope to visit every lawmaker in Sacramento to talk about what we want to see in California. We will all meet back for a complimentary VIP reception on Monday evening.

Register today for the California Medical Cannabis Policy Summit and Lobby Day. This may be the most important thing you can do for medical cannabis right now.

We have a great opportunity to do something positive for patients, cultivators, workers, and others. If lawmakers from all over the state hear in person from constituents in their Districts, we can show them that there is a safe political space to stand up for medical cannabis. That is why I am going to Sacramento: to make a difference. Will you be there with me?

Unfortunately, Maryland Did NOT Become the 19th Medical Marijuana State

When the Maryland Senate voted earlier today to approve HB 1101 today, it failed to become the 19th medical cannabis (marijuana) state. In spite of the bill's comendable intentions, it remains highly flawed. Some have touted the HB 1101 approach as a "yellow light" on medical cannabis, yet sadly, it can only be seen as a "yellow light" on a "bridge to nowhere."

In spite of the bill's laudable intent, the approach is completely untested, and causing even greater concern, the program is almost certainly  unimplementable for legal, financial and practical reasons. In fact, the Maryland Department of Legislative Services found that participation program is "expected to be low (or nonexistent)" and will "not likely to be able to comply with the bill’s requirement to set its fees at a level sufficient to offset program costs...unless it sets its fees at a level that would likely be prohibitively high."



Legal Reasons for Concern

HB 1101 would allow patients to obtain medical cannabis from "Academic Medical Centers" (AMCs), which are essentially teaching-hospitals that have federal approval to conduct trails on human subjects. While this is creative way to reinvent how medical cannabis is distributed to patients, only one potentially eligible AMC (Sinai Hospital in Baltimore) has expressed interest in becoming an AMC. However, by becoming an AMC, the hospital would likely be placing its credentials to conduct research on human subjects in jeopardy. Considering that federal interference is one of the reasons Maryland has been reticent to adopt a proven safe access model, it does not add up why Maryland would be encouraging its facilities to endanger the credentials.

But let's assume for a moment that this legal concern is not in fact an issue...

Financially Unimplementable

The DLS analysis points out that HB 1101 must be able to offset the financial costs incurred by the commission that will be set to implement it. While the DLS report mentions that the state might not be able to find any willing and eligible AMCs, it concludes that even if Sinai or another institution stepped forward and applied to be an AMC, the program would still be unable to offset its anticipated costs. Moreover, the state will have to bear the costs of establishing the administrative rules for the program, even if no AMCs ever apply to the state. It's rare feat for an essentially symbolic piece of legislation to come with a price tag, but that's what HB 1101 does, meaning Maryland taxpayers could be forced to pay for a program that may not serve any of the state's patient population.

But let's assume for a moment that the price tag issues are not a factor...

Dubious Practical Value

Absent concerns about the financial and legal viability of HB 1101, the program still contains practical flaws that would make it arguably the least patient-friendly bill in the country. The bill fails to grant physicians to right to recommend cannabis to their patients unless an eligible AMC has been approved by the state to recommend and distribute medical cannabis for certain conditions. In other words, if an AMC did not have foresight to include a patient's particular condition in its application to become an AMC, the patient would be shut out from the program. This would be particularly harmful to patients with rare conditions and conditions for which medical cannabis is an emerging therapeutic option. This also means that the Commission would have to approve conditions, and given the strong resemblance of the work group created by SB 308 (2011) that had difficulty meeting its statutory requirements, it would also require the state's patients to take a serious gamble that the Commission could meet its function.

Geography is another practical concern that should resonate with patients across the state. The most likely AMCs (Sinai, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the University of Maryland Hospital) are all in Baltimore. Patients who do not live along the I-95 corridor, such as combat veterans living with PTSD in Cumberland, or retirees with cancer living on the Eastern Shore, may have to drive 2-3 hours each way in order to access their AMC to obtain medicine. Even if a patient is fortunate to have a caregiver assist them, the potential 6-hour trip is a completely unnecessary burden to safe access.

So what are Maryland patients left to assume? As someone who lived in Maryland for over 30 years, and has most of my loved ones still residing in the state, there was no state in 2013 that I had more personal hope for than Maryland. I really wanted Maryland to be the next medical marijuana state, but HB 1101 simply falls short, and significantly so.

Maryland's new medical may make lawmakers feel better, but it remains extremely unlikely that it will do the same for the state's patient population.

 

 

Progress in Massachusetts

Following overwhelming approval of the medical marijuana ballot initiative in November, Massachusetts’ patients are waiting for safe access to their medicine as the state proceeds with implementation. We aren’t there yet, but so far progress is continuing in the right direction, thanks to the work of patient advocates from around the state. There have been a number of exciting advancements over the last several weeks.

The Attorney General issued a ruling that cities and towns cannot ban medical treatment centers from opening. Despite the overwhelming passage of the initiative that won in 350 out of 351 communities, a small minority of municipalities had attempted to forbid treatment centers from operating within their jurisdictions, largely based on unfounded fears about how treatment centers will work. Supporters within these towns have been frustrated with local officials’ attempting to overturn the will of the voters by passing bans. The AG has decided that these efforts are not legal, based on the reasoning that if one town can ban treatment centers, they all can. If that happened, implementation of the medical marijuana law would be impossible, and therefore these local bans are not permitted under state law. However, the AG also found that cities and towns can pass temporary moratoriums or zoning ordinance to address treatment center siting, as long as they do not ban the centers outright.



In other important developments, we saw an impressive turn out from patients at three recently convened listening sessions where the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) was soliciting input as the agency works on writing the regulations that will determine how the medical marijuana program will work. We thank Dr. Lauren Smith, Acting Commissioner of DPH, and her staff for making the time to travel around the state and listen to patients and others on issues regarding implementation.

The Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA) remains committed to making sure that patients, their family members, and medical professionals have a voice in the process. Once again advocates in Massachusetts have risen to the occasion, and we’ve proven nothing is more powerful than patients coming forward to speak about their experience. Read media coverage to hear directly from patient advocates at the Worcester session, Boston session, and Holyoke session.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), (through their board member, Karen Munkacy MD) has been working closely with MPAA and DPH.  ASA has presented information on patient access, physician education, patient education, recommendations for dispensaries (written in collaboration with the American Herbal Products Association) and what is a reasonable 60 day supply of MMJ.

We expect draft regulations to be released at the end of March, and then there will be one or two public hearing(s) around April 19. The month of April will be a critical period for patients and others to formally submit testimony to DPH on how implementation should be carried out.


 Sign up to be on our e-mail alert list at  compassionforpatients.com and visit us on facebook to stay updated about future meetings as we organize in preparation of the next hearing.


Let's Continue to Fight for Safe Access - Join ASA Today

spring_membership.jpeg

On her 30th birthday (March 19 in 2012), doctors discovered a cancerous mass in my sister's right breast.  She was rushed to the emergency room for an emergency mastectomy and was newly pregnant at the time.  For a grueling year, she suffered extensive chemotherapy treatments , during which she secretly used cannabis to ease her anxiety and nausea instead of drugs proscribed by her doctors which were known to harm the fetus.   Her healthy and beautiful daughter Chloe was born via scheduled cesarean with no complications other than slight prematurity.  My sister lives in Virginia, where medical cannabis is barely a conversation.  Today, a year later on March 11th, a new mass was found in her left breast.  Unless we do something to help her, my sister will unnecessarily continue to suffer through her treatments.

I have always championed the medicinal properties of cannabis and believe it should be easy to obtain and available to whoever needs it.  But nothing drives that fact home harder than experiencing it on the front lines through a loved one's suffering.  My sister is not alone.  There are so many people struggling with extreme pain, discomfort and agony on a daily basis.  Every single one of them deserves relief.

I joined ASA to not only end my story and voice to the fight for safe access to medical cannabis but to empower others to take action as well.  Today, I do so by urging you to join ASA.



ASA's 45 day Spring Membership Drive launched yesterday. Our goal, to obtain 3,000 new members starts with you.  Incidentally, it's a great time to join because we are offing a bunch of membership incentives with each membership level.

ASA members…

    • Receive discounts on ASA products, events, and materials

 

    • Get invitations to special member-only briefings

 

    • Know that they are contributing to directly on the front lines of the medical cannabis movement everyday



And for the next 45 days new and renewing members get…

    • $35 Basic membership = ASA lapel pin

 

    • $50 ASA Fan membership = ASA T-shirt

 

    • $100 ASA Friend = ASA Activist Handbook

 

    • $250 ASA Enthusiast= ASA Sweatshirt

 

    • $500 ASA Fantastic= ASA Sweatshirt and Handbook



Become a Sustaining Member with an affordable monthly contribution and get…

    • $10/month Ally = ASA lapel pin

 

    • $25/month Advocate = ASA T-shirt

 

    • $50/month Activist = ASA Activist Handbook

 

    • $100/month Leader = ASA Sweatshirt

 

    • $250/month Movement Builder = ASA Sweatshirt and Handbook



60% of Americans for Safe Access’ (ASA) budget comes from individuals just like you.  Your membership ensures that ASA can answer calls from thousands of patients every month, weigh-in on legislation around the country, represent you in Washington, DC, and give advocates the tools they need to create safe and legal access in their communities. No one else is doing this important work, and it only happens because of the support of people like you.

You can help make it happen right now. Join ASA or renew your membership today. That way you can know that you are helping to make a real difference in the fight for medical cannabis nationwide.

Unlike contributions to a 501(c)(3), donations to 501(c)(4)s are not tax deductible as charitable contributions.  But your financial contribution goes so much further because it directly affects change on the issues you care about.

Together, we can work together to directly affect chance for so many deserving people whether we know them or not. by joining ASA and lending out voices to the ongoing fight for medical cannabis.