Pages tagged "ASA Ambassadors"


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?

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

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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.



CA Unity Conference: You Can Still Be a Part of History

ASA’s California Unity Conference was a huge success. For two days, 200 advocates learned about the steps our movement needs to take to be successful, met and networked with advocates from their regions, and trained in a variety of tools to advance our cause. On the third day, an unprecedented 300 patient advocates stormed the Sacramento Capitol to bring our message directly to the lawmakers. It was an inspiring moment.


If you couldn’t attend our conference, you can participate virtually. Below you can watch the video by lawmakers encouraging us to lobby our representatives. You can download our workbook as a PDF, and use it to learn how to speak effectively to your elected representatives - in California and beyond.

The crowning achievement of the conference was our mass lobby day, when 300 activists from across the state lobbied their representatives in support of AB2312 and SB1182. We had constituents from 70 of the 80 Assembly Districts and 36 of the 40 Senate districts - a statewide turnout that in the past has only been matched by California’s heaviest-hitting interest groups. Our medical cannabis advocates were well-trained and well-informed, and we showed Sacramento that patients are a political force to be reckoned with!

You can multiply our efforts

Even if you could not be there to talk to your representatives in person, you can lobby for sensible statewide regulation from the comfort of your own home. Go to ASA’s Online Action Center to look up your California Assemblymember and Senator, and email and call them to ask them to support AB2312 and SB1182. Please do so this week, as the vote will happen by Friday night. It is your support that will multiply the work of the advocates at the conference, and bring safe access to California.

Thanks to everyone who attended and supported the conference, our movement has made a giant step forward. We will be building on this success in other parts of the country as the struggle for safe access continues. Stay tuned, and thanks for your support!


Elected Officials Push Back Against Threats by DOJ Over Medical Marijuana



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday, President Obama’s Justice Department (DOJ) made clear its motivations to disrupt and undermine California’s medical marijuana laws. However, advocates argue that last week’s announcement by the state’s four U.S. Attorneys, which included threats against property owners, comes after months of aggressive DOJ attacks in several medical marijuana states. SWAT-style raids and threats of criminal prosecution against local and state officials has become emblematic of Obama’s policy on medical marijuana, a far cry from his pledge on the campaign trail that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”

Yet, just as Obama’s confusing war on medical marijuana has reached a fever pitch, condemnation could be heard from several state and federal officials in California. Some state legislators and members of Congress are refusing to be intimidated by this latest round of threats from the federal government. Congressional members Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), as well as State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) all decried the recent DOJ announcement in California.

In a statement issued to Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Congressman Rohrabacher called the DOJ effort “a waste of scarce federal resources.” In a separate statement issued to ASA, Congressman Farr had this to say:
Medical cannabis continues to be prescribed by physicians to patients suffering from painful and serious illnesses, as a means to minimize their pain and support their recovery. For that reason it is important that patients continue to have safe access to the medication they need. California has adopted clear regulations that allow patients to do just that, it is unfortunate that the Federal Government has decided to target these legal vendors instead of focusing those resources on those who sell illicit drugs.

State Senator Mark Leno told the Los Angeles Times that the DOJ strategy was a waste of precious resources at a time of fiscal crisis:
They’re wasting money they don’t have. This is not the issue of the day. This doesn’t create jobs. This does not keep the security of the nation intact. It doesn’t clean the environment. If anything, they should be demonstrating leadership in resolving the conflict between federal and state laws. Until we deal with that, we’re going to be going around in circles here.

Assembly member Tom Ammiano had perhaps the strongest words of condemnation in a press release issued shortly after the DOJ press conference on Friday. Ammiano said that the attack on medical marijuana would cost the state “millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives.”
I am bitterly disappointed in the Obama Administration for this unwarranted and destructive attack on medical marijuana and patients’ rights to medicine.  [Friday’s] announcement by the Department of Justice means that Obama’s medical marijuana policies are worse than Bush and Clinton.  It’s a tragic return to failed policies that will cost the state millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives. 16 states along with the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws -- whatever happened to the promises he made on the campaign trail to not prosecute medical marijuana or the 2009 DOJ memo saying that states with medical marijuana laws would not be prosecuted?  Change we can believe in?  Instead we get more of the same.

Notably, Congressman Rohrabacher’s statement had a prescriptive solution:
[The DOJ announcement] underscores the need for Congress to pass H.R. 1983, the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act.

He’s right. People across the country should contact their member of Congress and urge them to pass H.R. 1983, a bill that would reclassify medical marijuana and allow states to develop, implement and enforce their own laws without interference from the federal government.

ATF is Latest in Long Line of Federal Agencies to Bully Medical Marijuana Patients



 

 

 

 

 

 

Two weeks ago, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), under the Obama Justice Department, issued a memorandum instructing firearms dealers not to sell to lawful medical marijuana patients. The ATF memo -- an affront to patients’ Second Amendment rights to be sure -- was just the latest in a long list of policy statements and threatening letters from the federal government aimed at undermining the rights of medical marijuana patients. However, this particular effort against gun owners has people riled up more than usual.

After finding out about the ATF memo, Montana’s congressional delegation -- Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), and U.S. Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jon Tester (D-MT) -- blasted the decision. In response, Tester wrote a letter to the ATF last week, urging the agency to “immediately reconsider [its] misguided effort.” Rep. Rehberg and Senator Baucus made similar condemning remarks.

In defense of patients, Senator Tester wrote:

It is unacceptable that law-abiding citizens would be stripped of their Second Amendment rights simply because they hold a state-issued card authorizing the possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

In Michigan, the ATF is being especially proactive. Americans for Safe Access has received reports that the federal government is using information obtained from the state’s medical marijuana program to serve search warrants and forfeiture notices on patients with legally possessed firearms.

The ATF memo comes after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a notice to state and local housing authorities that accommodation need not be given to legal medical marijuana patients and that eviction from public housing was an acceptable option.

Also earlier this year, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued an order, increasing the enforcement responsibilities of banks to ensure against criminal and illicit activity. This order has been used to deny or cancel banking services for countless legally operating medical marijuana dispensaries across the country. According to a Denver Post editorial from today:

[L]ast week, the lone bank in the state that openly worked with the [medical marijuana] industry closed an estimated 300 marijuana-related accounts for fear that the companies  are breaking federal law.

In a now-famous move, the Obama Justice Department sent out a series of letters this summer to public officials in at least 10 medical marijuana states, threatening criminal prosecution for implementing public health laws. This had a deleterious effect on several local and state laws in Arizona, California, Montana, Rhode Island and Washington to name a few.

More recently, however, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that Harborside Health Center -- possibly the largest licensed medical marijuana distribution facility in California -- could not deduct its operating costs and must pay taxes on gross income. Besides the possibility of putting Harborside out of business, this could have a devastating effect on local distribution across the country.

The ATF memo and other examples of intolerance by the federal government illustrate the need for a federal policy that treats medical marijuana as a public health issue. As such, urge President Obama to develop a comprehensive policy on medical marijuana. Also, people should urge their Member of Congress to pass HR 1983 to reclassify medical marijuana, HR 1984 to restore banking services for the medical marijuana community, and HR 1985 to allow dispensaries to deduct their operating expenses when paying federal taxes.

Tennessee Congressman Calls Federal Medical Marijuana Policy “Misguided”



Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) wrote a letter to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske on Monday, urging a change to the country’s drug policy with regard to marijuana. In addition to calling the federal policy on medical marijuana “misguided,” Cohen said, “Marijuana does not belong on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.”
There is no evidence that marijuana has the same addictive qualities or damaging consequences as these harder drugs and it should not be treated as such.

Cohen, who has taken FBI Director Robert Mueller to task over the federal government’s policy, called for compassion in his letter to Kerlikowske:
We should not deny the thousands of Americans who rely on marijuana to treat the effects of AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and other illnesses the benefits that marijuana provides.

Cohen also described a personal experience he had with medical marijuana:
I have personally witnessed a close friend who was suffering in the last days of pancreatic cancer benefit tremendously from smoking marijuana. It increased his appetite, eased his pain, and allowed him to smile. It allowed him to deal with death with a little more dignity.

Fortunately, there is a bill currently in Congress that would reclassify medical marijuana. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is mobilizing people to urge their Members of Congress to pass HR 1983, a bill that would reclassify marijuana to Schedule III and allow states to pass their own laws.

ASA has also taken the Obama Administration to court over its refusal to reclassify marijuana. After a 2002 petition filed by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) was denied earlier this year, ASA and the CRC filed an appeal in the D.C. Circuit. Advocates are hopeful that either Congress or the courts will push the federal government to address medical marijuana with a sensible public health policy.

Michigan Appellate Court Severely Limits Access to Medical Marijuana, Lansing Mayor Blasts Decision



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday, Michigan’s Court of Appeals ruled in People v. Compassionate Apothecary that the sale of medical marijuana was illegal under state law, outlawing an important method of distribution relied on by thousands of Michigan patients. According to the City Pulse, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero blasted the ruling today as “a terrible setback” and “ridiculous law,” claiming that the judges “subverted the will of the people rather than facilitated it.” Lansing and other cities in Michigan have already adopted regulations licensing the same distribution facilities just banned by the appellate court.

Since voters passed the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act in 2008, patients have been struggling to find safe and legal ways to access their medication. Several cities including Ann Arbor, Lansing, Traverse City and Ypsilanti had forged ahead, adopting ordinances regulating local distribution so that legal protection would exist for patients and providers. But Tuesday’s decision undermines those local laws and an estimated 400 dispensaries that were operating across the state, generally without incident.

Mayor Bernero called the decision a victory for the War-on-drugs approach, “which will help keep marijuana sales in the neighborhoods and back alleys.” Statistics show that the vast majority of patients rely on centralized distribution centers for their medication, mainly because it is difficult and expensive to grow indoors. In the face of this demand for safe access by the state’s most vulnerable residents, Michigan has shown a deplorable lack of compassion and foresight. Because this legal prohibition on distribution will push patients into the illicit market, it will increase the risk of harm to patients and in so doing will directly contradict the efforts of law enforcement.

Advocates applaud the leadership of local officials like Mayor Bernero, yet more are needed to stand up for the rights of patients to safely and legally obtain their medication. In looking ahead, Mayor Bernero put the ball in the state legislature’s court:
The way forward is simple -- our state lawmakers need to step up to the plate and write a law that is clear and concise and that respects the will of the people of Michigan as expressed in their overwhelming support for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Advocates are currently working to develop a response. The tens of thousands of Michigan patients who rely on local distribution will not stand idly by while their rights are taken away. Whether through the courts, the legislature or by referendum, patients will seek a remedy to gain safe and legal access to medical marijuana.

ASA California Tour: August 19 - September 1



This month, ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer and I will be visiting eleven cities in California to train, empower, and activate the grassroots base of support for medical cannabis! Mark your calendar today for the closest stop on the ASA California Tour 2011.

We will be conducting a Know-Your-Rights and Raid Preparedness Training in each city, followed by very special city-wide Stakeholders Meeting. ASA invites patients, caregivers, doctors, researchers, community members, and others to attend these free events all over the state.


The need to mobilize the base in California has never been greater. Cities and counties are adopting regulations, moratoria, and bans on patients’ associations and cultivation. Patients and providers routinely encounter resistance from law enforcement. Media bias and public ambivalence threaten to roll back gains made over the last few years. State lawmakers are grappling with legislation that will have a huge impact on patients’ welfare, and federal pressure on medical cannabis is mounting!

ASA knows that the key to adopting and implementing good policy at the local, state, and federal level is having a trained and activated grassroots base in the community. There is no other way to make it happen. The ASA California Tour 2011 is a chance to reconnect with the grassroots campaign for safe access – or to get started fighting for patients’ rights for the first time. Don’t miss this great opportunity.

Mark your calendar today for the ASA California Tour 2011, and download flyers to invite your friends and loved ones to come with you! I look forward to seeing you in cities all over California this month.