Pages tagged "ASA Activism"

  • Why we fight for medical cannabis - and how Congress can help us win



    One month ago I traveled to California for an event in San Francisco. The morning before the event, I awoke to the news that the Drug Enforcement Administration was raiding Blue Sky, a dispensary in Oakland. It was heartening to see an outpouring of support for medical marijuana patients, but the dispensary was closed down and medicine was seized. The next day I visited a dear friend who is suffering from late-stage cancer, who is too ill to medicate even with a vaporizer. Though in great pain, my friend did not want to use morphine and lose her ability to communicate with the friends and family whom she loves very much.



    Thanks to California’s compassionate use law, I was quickly able to meet her caregiver at a dispensary in San Francisco where he safely purchased cannabis edibles recommended by her doctor. Within an hour of taking a medical cannabis lozenge, my friend who hadn’t eaten in three days, sat up and ate like a horse. This sight reminded me why we all fight so hard for safe access. What would I have done if this were my grandmother in Texas, which does not permit compassionate use? How could I have quickly found edibles if the DEA had closed every dispensary in the Bay Area?

    When the federal government tries to stop access to medicine, they are trying to undo tens of thousands of hours work that advocates and local governments have put in to creating regulations for safe access to cannabis. The DEA wants to deny patients medicine that can dramatically improve their lives, or reduce their suffering. Without safe access to cannabis, patients and caregivers have to resort to the inconsistency of the illicit market.

    That is why Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, Maurice Hinchey and Sam Farr will introduce a bipartisan amendment to deny funding to DEA raids against dispensaries operating in accordance with state law. This amendment to an Appropriations bill would not legalize marijuana, but would preserve state’s rights to allow compassionate use, and support local government decision-making.

    If you do one thing for safe access to medical marijuana this year, make it a phone call to your Representative in support of this important amendment by using our Online Action Center.

    My friend is still alive. Marijuana will not reverse the course of her illness, but thanks to high-quality cannabis products, she is alert enough to talk to her friends and family for what may be the last time. Having those precious moments with a dear friend is why I work so hard for all patients. Please join me in asking your Representative to vote Yes on the Rohrabacher-Hinchey-Farr Amendment, to preserve safe access for our friends and loved ones.
  • Lynching Charlie Lynch - A New Medical Marijuana Documentary



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    As we find ourselves, yet again, under attack by the federal government, a new medical marijuana documentary tells the story of a dispensary operator arrested in 2007 by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Five years later, the story of Charles C. Lynch has not died out and, in fact, is more relevant than ever.

    Award-winning documentary filmmaker Rick Ray teamed up with Brainstorm Media to release "Lynching Charlie Lynch" this past Friday. A press release issued at the time described the film this way:
    Controversial and provocative, Lynching Charlie Lynch explores the conflict between the state-permitted medical marijuana business and Federal drug law in America, and the human cost of the arbitrary and inconsistent application of the law. Through in-depth interviews with experts and advocates across the country and on all sides of the issue, Lynching Charlie Lynch finds many answers, and raises even more questions.

    Lynch was one of more than 200 Californians raided by the DEA during President Bush's 8 years in office. Yet, the Obama Justice Department has conducted more than 200 raids in at least 9 medical marijuana states in just 3 1/2 years, far surpassing his predecessor. Despite President Obama's pledge to do otherwise, he's waged an all-out assault on medical marijuana patients, the breadth and intensity of which is unprecedented in this country's history.

    President Obama must be made to answer for the stark and harmful contradiction between his medical marijuana policy and his law enforcement practices. Please help keep President Obama accountable and help us pursue a sensible public health policy for medical marijuana.
  • Happy Birthday, ASA



    Ten years ago today, I stood below the biggest free-standing billboard in San Francisco and watched volunteers drop a huge banner that said “No War on Patients!” right next to one of the busiest freeways in the city. It was the beginning of a series of actions and media work in response to former Drug Czar Asa Hutchinson’s visit to the Bay Area. He was coming to town to gloat about raids at medical cannabis dispensaries and gardens, and we were determined to tell a different story. That’s how the nation’s largest medical cannabis patients’ advocacy organization got its name – Americans for Safe Access v. Asa Hutchison or “ASA v. Asa.”



    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is ten years old today. Your support and participation have helped us score many victories since those early days. We have provided legal support to tens of thousands of patients, promoted more compassionate laws nationwide, and helped to end media bias and public ambivalence on this issue. Your participation and support have helped make it happen. Can you help us celebrate? We are asking members and friends to send us pictures and videos of ASA-related activities or experiences that we can share at anniversary celebrations and other events this year. You can email your picture or video to [email protected] or upload it using our new iPhone app.

    Can you remember when there were only a handful of patients and dispensaries in the San Francisco Bay Area? Now there are legal patients in sixteen states and the District of Columbia. You have helped ASA bring patients’ voices to the table in the local, state, and federal campaign for safe access to medical cannabis. We want your stories to be a part of the celebration this year.

    Thank you for supporting ASA. I look forward to seeing you at anniversary celebrations all year!
  • DC Inches Closer to Safe Access, Provisionally Approves 4 Dispensaries


    The D.C. Deparment of Health's Health Regulation and Licensing Administration (HRLA) finally unveiled the names of the business that will be directly providing safe access through dispensaries to the District's medical cannabis patients. Yesterday, the HRLA announced which dispensary applicants received scores of at least 150 points during the review process. Only 4 dispensaries made the 150-point requirement, and according a District government official “[t]his list is pretty final,” meaning these 4 dispensaries will be the only providers in the District for the foreseeable future. And on top of the mere 1 dispensary per 125,000 residents, there is also the cultivation center plant limit of 95 at each of the 6 approved locations, meaning less that one plant per 1,000 District residents. However, at least now the "foreseeable future" includes includes safe access in D.C., even if it comes through the most severely restrictive program in the country. 

    Those who have followed District's slow progress towards safe access to medical cannabis know that in May 2010, the D.C. Council approved B18-622, which was and remains the most restrictive medical cannabis program approved in the country.  In the nearly 2 years since passing the bill that limits access to those living with cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma or severe muscle spasms have been waiting for the D.C. government to draft regulations and get the program up and running. Those with conditions such as PTSD and chronic pain were left outside the program, but there is movement from within the local patient activist community to get the Department of Health to add qualifying conditions to the D.C.'s excruciatingly short list.

    While adding qualifying conditions is something the Department must consider, perhaps the greater priority right now from them is to begin the process of accepting patient and caregiver applications and issuing the ID cards that will provide them protection from arrest. However, because the DC medical cannabis regulations require each ID card is registered to a particular dispensary, the applications cannot be submitted until the applications are known. Therefore the next step the District government must take is to grant final approval to these dispensaries.

    Given the slow but gradual progress made in D.C. over the past few months, the anticipated final approval time of late June seems realistic, but many deadlines have been blown by the District government regarding this program, including the statutory requirement for a report on patient home cultivation. Those who have fought so hard for safe access to medical cannabis in D.C. certainly have the right to be skeptical. It's now up to the D.C. government's actions are able to curb that skepticism, and ASA is continuing to work with local patient advocates to press forward.

    Safe Access DC: http://dcsafeaccess.org/

    DC Dept. of Health page on medical cannabis: http://hrla.doh.dc.gov/hrla/cwp/view,a,1385,q,578539.asp
  • Another Small Step: Protecting Patients from Arrest in Maryland

    [caption id="attachment_2438" align="alignnone" width="201" caption="Gov. O'Malley"]
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    Patients Not Criminals!

    While the Maryland medical cannabis community entered the 2012 legislative session with high hopes because of three bills in the house proposing medical cannabis access points, the Governor O'Malley has come out in opposition of any bill naming any state agency as a regulatory body for the program fearing threats of federal prosecution of Maryland state employees.  While the cannabis community was hoping for O'Malley to champion this issue much like many of the brave Maryland state legislators, he too is joining governors across the country who are falling for the latest federal scare tactic.  While public officials across the country have received threat letters regarding medical cannabis, not one person has been prosecuted for the implementation of state sanctioned medical cannabis programs despite their receipt of threat letters indicating otherwise.



    At a press conference last night in Annapolis, legislators and patients spoke out for the need of a bill like Delegate Glenn's House Bill 15, a proposed piece of legislation that focuses on best practices of medical cannabis states across the country.  HB15 is the only bill that would ensure safe access to cannabis via patient cultivation.

    Rather than hoping for a law providing comprehensive protections and access for patients, Maryland is considering it's next best step is to provide patients with some of the protections they deserve.  MD-ASA, affiliates and concerned citizens are working with legislators amend HB 15 and SB995 to not only provide patients who possess a tamper-proof doctor's certification with protections from arrest and other civil protections, caregivers will also be awarded opportunities to use the affirmative defense in a court of law.  This move would still provide patients and caregivers with protection and advancing Maryland one step closer to providing safe access to qualifying patients in Maryland while removing the state as a central regulatory body for now so that patients can avoid unnecessary arrest and costly prosecution until next year, when hopefully the federal government will uphold state's rights to create and implement it's own medical cannabis law.  While this move may appear small on paper, it is a monumental move in the right direction for patients and caregivers.

    Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 20, SB995 will be considered in front of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee at 1:00pm.  Americans for Safe Access is calling upon the medical cannabis community and it's s supporters to encourage the legislature to pass the amended version of SB995/HB15, and also encourage the governor to allow the bill to become law. For information on how to testify, email [email protected]

    Links:
    To read more about yesterday's press conference click here.
    To access ASA's Action Alert click here.

     

     
  • Medical Marijuana Week - Day 2: Congress can Protect Patients and Safe Access with HR 1983

    On May 25, 2011, Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced HR 1983, a bill that in many respects would end the federal government's assault on safe access for patients. Known as the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, the legislation would force the executive branch to stop dragging their feet on reclassifying marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. It would also prevent the federal government from imposing penalties on anyone legitimately participating in a state medical marijuana program. The bill would further prevent the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana through the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. While this fantastic bill was able to attract 21 cosponsors - several of whom signed a letter to Obama in support of HR 1983 - it has since languished after being referred to committee.

    The seemingly permanent classification of marijuana in Schedule I has got to be one of the most notable examples of the federal government sticking its head in the sand in recent US history. To keep marijuana under Schedule I, the federal government is literally saying that:

    1. Marijuana has a high potential for abuse.

    2. Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

    3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of marijuana under medical supervision.

    Really? Given that 16 states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws, with at least another 16 states considering new legislation, it is patently absurd for the federal government to maintain that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” Indeed, countless doctors in these states have recommended marijuana as a treatment to their patients because they are confident in its safety and efficacy. In terms of potential for abuse, not a single medical marijuana patient has died as a result of using marijuana for medical purposes. What’s more is that several apparently safe drugs under Schedule III or lower have caused fatalities in patients, such as hydrocodone, vicodon or benzodiazepines. This situation might be laughable if not for all of the patients who must suffer at the mercy of a federal government which refuses to listen to reason and ever-mounting scientific evidence in favor of medical marijuana

    Congress should be embarrassed by its failure to protect safe access for patients. For Day 2 of Medical Marijuana Week, ASA is asking you to remind your members of Congress about this absurdity, so please take a moment to call Congress and demand your member’s support for HR 1983.  Americans for Safe Access is moving forward with the decade-long court battle with the federal government to marijuana rescheduling, but passage of HR 1983 would mean the government would have to complete the rescheduling process in 12 months. The election year presents a wonderful opportunity to put pressure on members of Congress, so please take time today to call, demand passage of HR 1983, and remind them that your vote is not to be taken for granted.

    ASA Fact Sheet on HR 1983: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/1983FactSheet.pdf

    National Action Alert - Urge Congress to Co-Sponsor HR1983: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/article.php?id=7066

    Medical Marijuana Week: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=7061

     
  • ASA Launches Medical Marijuana Week in Response to 3 Years of Obama's Broken Promises

    UPDATE: Click here for today's detailed action alert.

    When President Obama was elected in 2008, the medical marijuana community was optimistic that the worst days of federal harassment were finally in the past. After all, he had once said, "I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It’s not a good use of our resources." This caused patients and those who provide them with safe access to their medicine to be hopeful that the 200-plus medical
    marijuana dispensary raids under President Bush would be resigned to being a terrible memory, a dark chapter in America’s past never to be repeated. Hopeful, indeed.

    For a brief time, it seemed that Obama’s campaign promises would be followed through upon, with the issuing Holder Memo, which seemed to announce a federal ceasefire in the war on patients. Ultimately, the campaign pledges and Holder Memo turned out to be broken promises, with over 170 SWAT-style raids resulting in at least 61 federal indictments, causing great distress to patients seeking safe access to their medicine. After little more than 3 years in office, Obama is not only on track to surpass two terms worth of Bush raids in just half the time, his Department of Justice has initiated a vicious attack on state sovereignty, designed to destroy the means of safe access patients have come to rely on. Americans for Safe Access is calling on patients, their loved ones, and all concerned citizens to voice their unwillingness to accept Obama’s massive assault against safe access by taking part in Medical Marijuana Week.

    Things would be bad enough if the Obama DOJ had merely doubled Bush’s rate of raids, but instead, US Attorneys have escalated hostilities against safe access to include threats to public officials and landlords. Officials in at least ten states have no doubt experienced a chilling effect on their sovereignty after received threatening letters, such as the City Councils for Chico and Eureka California. This past week, Governor Markell of Delaware announced the suspension of the state's recently passed medical marijuana program. Even the US Attorney for Colorado, John Walsh, once considered relatively amicable towards medical marijuana has sent similar threat letters, boldly proclaiming them as “not a bluff.” Americans for Safe Access has filed a 10th Amendment lawsuit against the DOJ for their coercive tactics that have derailed medical marijuana legislation in several states. In a separate federal legal action, ASA has recently filed a brief in its petition against the arbitrary and capricious refusal by the government to reclassify marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

    Now is the time to tell the White House that enough is enough. Americans for Safe Access is launching Medical Marijuana Week with an action alert to call the White House and demand that Obama end using federal resources to undermine state laws, and stop putting politics before science by acting immediately to reclassify marijuana as medicine. Remind President Obama about his campaign broken campaign promises, because if patients, their loved ones, and concerned citizens do not tell Obama that his medical marijuana policy must change, it will never improve. After calling the White House today, please continue to join ASA’s Medical Marijuana Week actions, culminating in several local rallies on Thursday February 16, 2012, and keep the pressure on Obama until his policy promotes safe access.

    ASA's Medical Marijuana Week: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=7061

    Action Alert to Call the White House: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/article.php?id=7065

     

     

     
  • Attorney General Holder Says One Thing While His U.S. Attorneys Do Another



     

     

     

     

     

    Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder answered questions before the House Judiciary Committee on his Justice Department’s handling of the now-famous federal ATF operation, “Fast and Furious.” During the hearing, Rep. Polis (D-CO) asked a series of questions on medical marijuana. Holder responded that the October 2009 Ogden memo de-emphasizing marijuana enforcement in medical marijuana states was still in effect. Specifically, Holder said that, “we will not use our limited resources,” to target people who “are acting in conformity with [state] law.” This seems to equate with the Ogden memo and the pledge that President Obama made before and after taking office. There’s only one (big) problem…the Justice Department is currently on a rampage in medical marijuana states, spending tax dollars like there was no fiscal crisis.

    Over the past year, Obama’s Justice Department has spent millions of dollars raiding more than one hundred dispensaries in at least 7 states. Holder’s U.S. Attorneys have also sent threatening letters to public officials in 10 medical marijuana states, attempting to undermine the same laws that Holder purports to respect. In California, U.S. Attorneys are not only using raids to spread fear and intimidation, they are also threatening landlords with criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture if they continue leasing to medical marijuana dispensaries.

    In March, the Obama Administration conducted the largest set of coordinated raids on medical marijuana facilities yet. No less than 8 federal agencies, including the DEA, FBI, EPA, ATF, OSHA, IRS, and ICE, worked with 22 local law enforcement agencies to execute 26 search warrants in 13 cities across Montana. A number of people were later indicted and are now dealing with federal prosecutions. At the time of the raids, the Justice Department complained of state law violations, but cases currently under way indicate the opposite.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thaggard is trying to prevent several defendants from using a state law defense at their federal trial. To be robbed of a defense is a travesty, but unfortunately all too common in federal medical marijuana cases. Thaggard’s comments in an August court filing, however, underscore the hypocrisy of the Justice Department’s policy on medical marijuana:
    Montana’s medical marijuana laws have no relevance to the present prosecution…

    So, how long will President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and the U.S. Attorneys on a rabid attack against medical marijuana be able to prop up their Orwellian policy of saying one thing and doing another? Only time and a whole lot of pressure will tell.
  • We're Making a Difference… Help ASA Keep the Momentum!



    Last week, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration's attempt to subvert local and state medical cannabis laws. Our lawsuit argues that the Tenth Amendment forbids the federal government from using coercive tactics to commandeer the law-making functions of the states. The public and media response has been impressive. We have received hundreds of messages of support, new members have joined ASA, and the national media coverage has been positive. Thank you to everyone who already spoke up and helped out!

    But we can’t stop there! ASA still needs your support to keep the momentum going in the right direction. Can you make a one-time or recurring donation to help us keep pushing back?


    Earlier this year, ASA filed another lawsuit in federal court challenging the unreasonable delay in the federal response to the nine-year old cannabis rescheduling petition. Rescheduling cannabis under federal law is an important step towards making it legally available for research and therapeutic use. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) promptly responded by denying the petition. ASA already filed a notice of appeal in this case, and will file the appeal brief challenging the DEA’s rescheduling decision very soon. Our appeal could lead to the first evidentiary hearings on the medical value of cannabis in federal court since 1994.

    We are also working to put direct political pressure on the Obama Administration. Federal and state lawmakers are already responding to ASA’s call for opposition to the federal crackdown and a change in federal law. US Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) spoke up early in the crackdown, and more recently, seven other Members of Congress joined them in signing an ASA-inspired letter to President Obama calling for rescheduling. In California, Senators Mark Leno (D-SF) and Leland Yee (D-SF), Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-SF), California Attorney General Kamala Harris, and several local elected officials have already spoken publicly in opposition to the crackdown. You can expect to see even more support like this, as ASA mobilizes our national grassroots base to visit state and federal representatives in their district offices nationwide.

    We need your help to keep up this campaign. Can you make a special contribution to help right now? You can make your support more affordable by making smaller monthly contributions!

    We can fight back against federal attacks on safe access. With your help, we can fight in federal court, galvanize support among state and federal representatives, and be sure the national media is telling the patients’ side of the story. Thank you to everyone who has joined ASA and contributed already. If you have not, now is the time.

    Be sure to read more about ASA’s rescheduling letter signed by nine Members of Congress and elected officials opposing the federal crackdown on ASA’s blog. And check out some of the great media coverage… here, here, and here.
  • California State, Local Elected Officials Blast Federal Attacks on Medical Marijuana



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Earlier this month, in response to federal attacks by California’s U.S. Attorneys, several local and state officials spoke out against the aggressive interference in their medical marijuana laws. State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) held a press conference with patients and advocacy groups, including Americans for Safe Access. The message was clear: the federal government must “stand down.”

    On October 19th, Senator Leno stated the following:
    I urge the federal government to stand down in its massive attack on medical marijuana dispensaries, which will have devastating impacts for the state of California. At a time when resources are precious and few, federal officials have chosen to waste time and money in an ambush that will harm countless patients who will no longer be able to safely access doctor-prescribed treatments. Our federal dollars, especially during a down economy, would be better spent on activities and programs that save jobs and help people in need. Instead, this ill-timed offensive would have no positive impacts on our state and would only force more Californians into unemployment.

    Assembly member Ammiano also declared that:
    Instead of supporting state efforts to effectively regulate medical marijuana in accordance with Prop 215, the Obama administration seems committed to re-criminalizing it. This destructive attack on medical marijuana patients is a waste of limited law enforcement resources and will cost the state millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives. I urge President Obama to reconsider this bad policy decision and respect California's right to provide medicine to its residents.

    In a separate statement, State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) also blasted the decision to shut down licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in the city:
    Medical marijuana dispensaries are helping our economy, creating jobs, and most importantly, providing a necessary service for suffering patients. There are real issues and real problems that the US Attorney’s Office should be focused on rather than using their limited resources to prosecute legitimate businesses or newspapers. Like S-Comm, our law enforcement agencies – both state and local – should not assist in this unnecessary action. Shutting down state-authorized dispensaries will cost California billions of dollars and unfairly harm thousands of lives.

    Most recently, California Attorney General Kamala Harris spoke out against the recent federal crackdown:
    Californians overwhelmingly support the compassionate use of medical marijuana for the ill. … While there are definite ambiguities in state law that must be resolved either by the state legislature or the courts, an overly broad federal enforcement campaign will make it more difficult for legitimate patients to access physician-recommended medicine in California. I urge the federal authorities in the state to adhere to the United States Department of Justice’s stated policy and focus their enforcement efforts on ‘significant traffickers of illegal drugs.

    Even local officials are speaking up. Mendocino County Supervisor John McCowen called the federal raid on a medical marijuana collective licensed by the county, “outrageous.” Supervisor McCowen said in a written statement, “if the federal government truly wants to protect public safety,” it should change its strategy of:
    [R]aiding medical marijuana growers who are doing everything they can to operate in full compliance with state and local law.

    Perhaps the feds should take heed, lest more officials from across the state speak up in defense of patients and state law.