Pages tagged "ASA Activism"

  • AG Holder: DOJ is Working to “Clarify” Federal Position on Medical Marijuana



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    At a press conference earlier today in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was peppered with questions about medical marijuana. This is understandable, given that a month ago U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha sent a letter to Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee and other state officials threatening:
    [C]ivil or criminal remedies against those individuals and entities who set up marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries.

    Holder responded that the White House policy outlined in the Ogden memo, which de-emphasized federal interference, “made sense given…the limited resources that we have.” Addressing the obvious discord between policy and practice, Holder said he was working in Rhode Island and other parts of the country to “clarify what this policy means and how the policy can be implemented.”

    Holder further stated that:
    What we have to do is try to effectuate that policy in a way that we give comfort to somebody who is using it appropriately.

    Patient advocates are pleased that Holder wants to clarify this glaring contradiction in Justice Department policy. Rhode Island was not the only state to endure threats from U.S. Attorneys. The Justice Department sent letters to local and state officials in at least 10 different states. These letters and the ongoing federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids occurring across the country have had a devastating impact on patients’ rights and safe access. Programs have been suspended not only in Rhode Island, but in Arizona and New Jersey as well. State and local laws were arguably curtailed by federal interference in California, Montana and Washington.

    Holder did say that he wants the process of clarifying federal policy to involve “dialog” and “communication.” We certainly hope he includes patients -- the ones directly affected by these policies -- in the dialog. But, we’re not waiting for his invitation so stay tuned for ways to make your voice heard.
  • 40,000 Signatures in Less than 30 Days; Referendum on City Council’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance Enters Signature Verification Process

    40,000 Signatures in Less than 30 Days; Referendum on City Council’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance Enters Signature Verification Process


    Eugene Davidovich, May 26, 2011

    In April of this year, the San Diego City Council passed an ordinance that effectively denied safe access to thousands of patients in the city. If left as is, it would have negatively impacted the most vulnerable members of our community by cutting off access to their medicine.



    As the ordinance is written, all locations where patients currently safely obtain their medicine, would be forced to shutter their doors and only a small handful would be allowed to open in far flung industrial areas of the City, only after coming into compliance with an onerous year-long conditional use permit process.

    The City Council rather than considering amendments to the ordinance suggested by their own medical marijuana task force and thousands of concerned citizens who wrote letters as part of the City’s largest letter writing campaign, on April 12 approved the restrictions and ignored the unprecedented public opposition.

    After the City Council’s ordinance took effect at the end of April and with only 30 days to circulate a petition to repeal the ordinance, a group of collective directors quickly organized and formed the Patient Care Association and Citizens for Patient Rights Political Action Committee. Comprised of over 50 local medical marijuana collectives, the association within days raised enough funds to hire the La Jolla Group, a professional signature gathering company, and undertook a massive effort to gather enough signatures to repeal the ordinance through a referendum process.

    San Diego Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the local chapter of the nation’s largest medical marijuana patients’ rights advocacy group, provided the association with direction and guidance on messaging as well as an alternative ordinance to propose to voters following the referendum. At the same time ASA’s legal department began to gear up for a lawsuit with the city and on April 28, sent a letter to the City urging them to ease up their restriction or face a challenge in court.

    As announced by San Diego ASA on May 4th, the referendum signature drive was underway and in less than 30 days, the La Jolla Group as well as all the collectives involved, gathered over 40,000 signatures, proving yet again the medical marijuana community in San Diego to be a serious political force.

    The signatures are expected to be turned in to the City Clerk’s office on Friday, May 26 and will effectively place on hold the overly restrictive ordinance passed by the council from becoming law in the City.

    Once the Clerk’s office turns the signatures over to the County’s Registrar of Voters, the verification process will begin and as required by law must be completed within 30 days. If the registrar confirms there are enough valid signatures, the Council will be forced to make a decision; place their overly restrictive ordinance on the ballot for a vote of the people or repeal it at the next available council meeting.

    If the City forces the referendum to a vote and decides against repealing the ordinance, depending on the date the signatures are determined valid by the Registrar of Voters, the City may have to call a special election costing millions, or instead place the ordinance on the June 2012 primary ballot for a vote.

    As for the effort currently underway by Code Enforcement to shut the existing facilities down, according to the City Attorney’s office, the status quo will be maintained. Landlords will continue to be harassed, patients will continue to face threats of lawsuits and intimidation, and they City Attorney plans on continuing to wage their war on patients. Their official position remains unchanged; the facilities currently operating would still be doing so without a valid business license and with no zoning in the City’s municipal code to allow for their use.

    The voting residents of San Diego overwhelmingly support safe and reliable access to medical cannabis for qualified patients in their neighborhood and are against the restrictions approved by the council as well as the effort to shut the existing facilities down. The San Diego community hopes the council will move forward with adopting the recommendations of the Medical Marijuana Task Force and amend the overly restrictive ordinance.

    If the City refuses to respect the recommendations of their own task force and continues on the path to shut access down without providing a reasonable alternative, they will face continued litigation and the medical marijuana community plans on quickly moving forward with a voter initiative which would once and for all, create reasonable rules and clarity for patients in the City to follow.

    Further Information:

    For more information about the Citizens for Patient Rights PAC visit: www.citizens4patientrights.org

    SD ASA’s May 4 Announcement about Referendum: http://www.safeaccesssd.org/2011/05/patient-care-association-of-california.html

    ASA threatens to sue City of San Diego: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/San_Diego_Demand_Letter.pdf

    City Council Medical Marijuana Ordinance: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/City_of_San_Diego_Ordinance.pdf

    For the latest information on medical marijuana in San Diego visit: www.safeaccesssd.org
  • Welcome to ASA 3.0 - 3 new bills in Congress, 3 new programs at ASA



    Here at ASA we are fighting hard for patients’ rights, and this year we’re taking a whole new approach. We’re calling it ASA 3.0. We’ve been holding stakeholders’ meetings across the nation, and we designed this approach based on what you – local activists and patients – want and need.

    We’ve developed a plan for improving safe access across the nation, but we need your help to make it happen. Can you commit just $1 a day to ASA’s important work? When you give to ASA, you are giving back to yourself because we build our strategies based on your needs.



    We know you want to see change on the federal level, so we have been working diligently on the Hill. Today, we got results: Three new bills were introduced in the House of Representatives that would protect patients and providers. Ask your representative to sign on as a sponsor to these bills. It only takes a minute to make the call, and the impact you make is much more powerful than even the best-paying lobbyists.

    The federal legislation is just the beginning. You asked for help with local and state legislation, so we created a Medical Cannabis Think Tank and Policy Shop. While state medical cannabis laws vary tremendously, the needs of patients remain consistent across the nation. Many regulations look good on paper, but their impact can be detrimental to the patients they seek to help. ASA’s Think Tank and Policy Shop provides local activists the support they need to analyze pending legislation and lobby for the best law possible.

    You asked for support in developing your grassroots community, so we created the Online Training Center. If we are going to keep the safe access we have now and build on it, we will need fight at every level of the political spectrum. With over 4 ½  hours of video content and over 400 pages of instruction manuals and worksheets, the Online Training Center gives patients and patient advocates the tools they need to accomplish their goals.

    Of course, state law provides little protection from the federal government. That’s why we’re vamping up our response to federal interference. We’re taking ASA’s proven raid response trainings across the nation and have released our new and improved our Raid Response Center to better prepare for interference across the country. (If you haven’t already, be sure you’re signed up for our Raid Alert Text Messages.)

    Since federal interference is rooted in cannabis’ listing as a Schedule I drug, we continue to fight to remove cannabis from that list. This time, we’re taking the issue to the courts. ASA, as part of the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis, recently filed a lawsuit for the DEA’s unreasonable delay in responding to a rescheduling petition we submitted in 2002. Yes, it has been nine years, and the DEA has neglected to respond. Not only should this lawsuit force the DEA to respond to the petition, but it will provide the opportunity for us to highlight the disconnect between the federal government’s policies and science.

    We’re excited about ASA 3.0, but we can’t do it alone. For just $1 a day, you can move ASA forward. That’s less than a cup of coffee – and that cup of coffee isn’t going to fight for your rights.

    Commit to the movement. Commit $1 a day to ASA. See the results.

    It’s coming … ASA’s new mobile application




     

    Allowing you to stay in the know on the go
  • Activists rally against the imprisonment of patients & in defiance of increased federal attacks in medical marijuana states

    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) staged rallies yesterday in Sacramento, California and Washington, DC to bring attention to the unnecessary incarceration of more medical marijuana patients and to defy what has become an escalated federal attack on medical marijuana states. As part of its "Sick and Tired" campaign, ASA members and supporters also delivered "Cease & Desist" orders to federal authorities in 10 medical marijuana states.





    The rally in Sacramento was to support Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband Dale Schafer as they surrendered to federal authorities, beginning a new chapter to their decade-long battle with the federal government. After being raided in 2001, despite approval to cultivate and repeated inspections by the local sheriff, they were eventually charged in 2005. Denied a medical defense in federal court, Fry and Schafer were convicted in 2007 of manufacturing, and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. They appealed their sentence, but it was vigorously fought by the Obama Administration. Be sure to urge Obama to grant Fry and Schafer clemency.

    Additional photos of the Sacramento rally can be seen here and here.

    [caption id="attachment_1432" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="DC rally"]
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    The same day, activists rallied in front of the Justice Department in Washington, DC chanting, "Obama be bolder, put a leash on Holder!" In recent weeks, raids in medical marijuana states have been on the rise. Since the Justice Department memo was issued in October 2009, discouraging federal enforcement actions in medical marijuana states, the Obama administration has conducted more than 90 aggressive SWAT-style raids against patients and their providers.

    The most recent tactic being used by the Obama administration to undermine state medical marijuana laws is for U.S. Attorneys to send letters to local and state officials threatening them with criminal prosecution if they implement well-planned out production and distribution licensing schemes. Justice Department letters have so far been sent to officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Rhode Island and Washington. The letters have commonly been timed to coincide with legislative actions, which in several cases have had the effect of curtailing patients' rights and access to their medication. To help bring attention to this unwarranted harassment and intimidation, ASA gave President Obama a failing grade in a report card it issued in March.

    [caption id="attachment_1435" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Detroit rally"]
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    Rallies also occurred in Los Angeles, Detroit and a handful of other cities.

    Focusing on medical marijuana states, ASA coordinated the delivery of "Cease and Desist" orders to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Attorneys' offices throughout the country, including in Arizona (Phoenix, Tucson), California (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco), Colorado (Denver), Maine (Portland), Michigan (Detroit, Lansing), Montana (Billings), Nevada (Las Vegas), Oregon (Eugene, Portland), Rhode Island (Providence), and Washington (Everett, Seattle, Spokane).

    Last week, as Washington Governor Gregoire was vetoing provisions of a bill that would have licensed distribution facilities in that state, she said she wanted to discuss this issue with other governors to urge the Obama administration to reschedule medical marijuana. ASA is taking that proposal seriously and intends to follow up with governors from medical marijuana states to educate them on the rescheduling issue and how there has been a pending petition which has gone unanswered for 9 years.
  • Action Alert: Call The San Diego Mayor Today Urge Him to Veto


    Earlier this month, over the most unprecedented public opposition to an ordinance the City Council has seen to date, they voted for a second time to approve an ordinance that the forces all collectives currently operating in the city to shutter their doors, taking away access to medical cannabis from over 50,000 patients.

    The displaced and disenfranchised patients wishing to comply with the new rules, prior to reopening must apply for a Conditional Use Permit Process 3 and find a location only in a limited number of far flung industrial areas of the City that are 600 feet away from schools, churches, parks, child care facilities, youth service facilities, libraries, playgrounds, and other collectives.



    The new ordinance did not address any compliance period for existing locations and zoned access out of the areas of the city containing the highest patient populations. City Council asked the Mayor to come up with a price tag for the new permits as well as to propose an enforcement and regulatory structure for collectives within thirty days.

    Following the final legislative act by the City Council on this ordinance the Mayor has ten days to either veto the legislation or sign it into law. If he lets the 10 days go by without a signature, then the ordinance automatically becomes law and he is no longer able to issue a veto.

    Call the Mayor’s office today at 619-236-6330 and urge him to veto this overly restrictive ordinance and fix the City Council’s mistake.

    Use the sample script below:

    "Mayor Sanders:
    I am outraged at the San Diego City Council’s vote on the medical marijuana dispensary ordinance and the impact it will have on the community in San Diego. Medical marijuana patients and providers should not be zoned out of the city into far flung industrial areas and forced to go through an overly restrictive compliance process.

    I strongly urge you to amend the ordinance with the following:

    1. Create a two year compliance period for collectives currently in operation.

    2. Add all commercial and industrial areas back in to the list of allowed zones.

    3. Reduce the proximity restriction to 600 feet away from schools as the only sensitivity use.

    4. Reduce Process three to Process one “By Right”, the same land use requirements imposed on pharmacies in the City of San Diego.

    It is unnecessary and burdensome for patients and dispensaries, to restrict dispensaries to industrial corners, far away from public transit and other services. Depending on a city's population density, it can also be extremely detrimental to set excessive proximity restrictions (to schools or other facilities) that can make it impossible for dispensaries to locate anywhere within the city limits. It is important to balance patient needs with neighborhood concerns in this process.

    Thank you for your time."

    After calling, click here to send the Mayor an email:
    http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/182/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6378

    San Diego Americans for Safe Access | www.SafeAccessSD.org

    Get Involved, get active, make a difference!
    Join ASA - www.safeaccessnow.org
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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"]
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    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.
  • Medical Marijuana Advocates Bring Attention to DEA Confirmation Hearings

    Americans for Safe Access is urging Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) members to ask Acting Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head Michele Leonhart difficult and pointed questions on Wednesday, during her confirmation hearing, about her plan to address the growing divide between federal and state medical marijuana laws. Leonhart, a Bush-holdover, led aggressive attacks for many years against medical marijuana patients and their providers, and has obstructed meaningful research into the medical efficacy of marijuana. Read more about Leonhart’s confirmation hearing, her background as Deputy DEA Administrator, the questions ASA has submitted to the SJC, and the action patients are taking to hold Leonhart accountable for her actions.

    [caption id="attachment_993" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart"]
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  • DC Medical Marijuana Law Advances Toward Implementation with New Revised Regulations

    D.C. medical marijuana patient advocates claimed partial victory, as a new set of revised rules and regulations were published by the District on Friday. The biggest achievement for patients, which was recently underscored by DCist.com, was wresting the licensing control from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) and placing it into the hands of more experienced healthcare providers. Although Americans for Safe Access (ASA) takes issue with other aspects of the regulations, such as the prohibition on patients cultivating their own medical marijuana, ASA intends to work with Mayor-elect Gray on reversing counter-productive and harmful provisions, building a strong and representative licensing board, and effectively meeting patients' needs. After voting for Initiative 59, the “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998,” more than 12 years ago, D.C. patients are ready to implement the law.