Pages tagged "ASA Chapters"

  • 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 4: Protesting the federal crack down nationwide

    During Obama’s Presidency, his administration has used a series of familiar and new tactics to interfere with state medical cannabis laws including nearly 200 SWAT-style raids leading to more than 60 indictments, threat letters to landlords and government officials, gross manipulation of the tax code, denying medical cannabis patients the right to bear arms, seizing medical cannabis related bank accounts, and much more. Today, ASA Chapters and affiliates in 9 cities and 6 states rallied outside of federal buildings and other venues across the country to tell Obama that enough is enough.

    Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, protested with the San Francisco ASA Chpater in front of his campaign appearance there. She said:
    The literal and figurative assault on medical marijuana patients currently underway by the Obama Administration is unprecedented in this country's history, despite hollow proclamations to the contrary.  The intensity and breadth of the attacks has far surpassed anything we saw under the Bush Administration and has resulted in the roll-back of numerous local and state laws.



    The Obama Administration has also employed numerous federal agencies, including the DEA, FBI, ATF, VA, and IRS to shut down access to medical marijuana, and cut-off services for, or otherwise discriminate against, literally hundreds of thousands of patients across the country.

    Patient advocates in San Francisco and across the country called on Obama to end his attacks on the medical marijuana community and begin to address this issue from a public health standpoint. In addition to keeping his pledge of deprioritizing enforcement, advocates are encouraging Obama to reschedule marijuana for medical use. ASA is currently litigating the rescheduling issue in the D.C. Circuit and has also filed a separate lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration's violation of the Tenth Amendment by derailing state medical marijuana laws.
  • 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.
  • Setting Precedent for Patients and Providers in San Luis Obispo County



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Earlier this month, two medical marijuana patients were acquitted of all charges in a case that is likely to affect numerous other similar pending cases. Deip Paul and Steven Brown were found “not guilty” of several felonies after only two hours of jury deliberation. The September 7th verdict finished off a two-week trial, which Superior Court Judge John Trice called:
    [a]n historic ruling for San Luis Obispo County, the first of its kind I believe, that I'm sure will have a large repercussions on currently ongoing trials.

    This victory for patients should be taken in context. Although the California coastal county of San Luis Obispo (SLO) is known for its vineyards, rolling hills, and the serenity of the Pacific Ocean, over the years law enforcement has been terrorizing the medical marijuana patient community.

    With the case of Charles C. Lynch, law enforcement attempted to scare and intimidate county medical marijuana patients and providers by federally prosecuting Lynch for operating his Morro Bay dispensary, despite city approval and business community support. The SLO Sheriff and federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided Lynch in 2007.

    Then in 2009, the San Luis Obispo Narcotics Task Force (NTF) started an investigation of Paul, a Cal Poly student who suffers from debilitating migraines, after he reported a burglary to the police. In February 2009, NTF officers followed Paul who was meeting with his medical marijuana provider. The two were arrested and charged with possession, possession with intent to sell, transportation, and conspiracy to sell marijuana. A third defendant, Cory Wolin, faced similar charges, but took a plea deal by testifying against his friend Paul.

    While Paul and Brown were getting prosecuted, NTF Commander Rodney John led a series of criminal enforcement actions in December 2010 against patients and their providers, mainly the operators of delivery services, which were spurred by the hostility against storefront medical marijuana dispensaries in the county. These raids resulted in several arrests and subsequent prosecutions.

    Once the case finally made it to trial more than two years later, the jury weighed whether Paul and Brown were within their rights as qualified patients to engage in an exchange of money for medical marijuana, and if the amount of marijuana and money involved were “reasonable” under the law. The courtroom was packed with supporters during the trial; the strong solidarity was evident.

    Despite Commander John’s testimony in the Paul/Brown trial, his evidence failed to convince the jury. This does not bode well for John’s other nine cases that are winding their way through the SLO Superior Court. The New Times reported this week that, “District Attorney Gerald Shea may have to consider differently which cases to pursue.” A motion to dismiss several of the cases was scheduled to be heard today.

    Paul and Brown are now seeking the return of their wrongfully seized property, still in police custody.
  • 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.
  • Help ASA turn the tide in CA!



    This was a tough year for medical cannabis in California. The state legislature failed to adopt a measure protecting patients’ employment rights, but they did adopt two bills that will present new hurdles for patients, providers, and growers. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has a plan to take back the momentum in California and pass legislation in 2012 to protect patients’ rights, community-based access, and medical cannabis growers. But we need your help to do it!

    Can you please take a minute right now to donate $20, $50, $100… or whatever amount you can afford to support ASA?



    This year, lawmakers adopted AB 1300, legislation authorizing local governments to regulate the location, operation, and establishment of patients’ cooperatives and collectives. While ASA is continuing the fight against local distribution bans in the California Courts of Appeal, we fear that medical cannabis opponents will misuse AB 1300 to promote more bans on access and cultivation in cities and counties across California. The legislature also approved SB 847, a bill that requires legal cooperatives and collectives to be located at least 600 feet from residential uses or zones. If that bill is signed by Governor Brown, it may choke off access in some communities. (Click here to ask Governor Brown to veto the bill.)

    These bills were not the result of a right-wing attack on medical cannabis. Both were sponsored by Democrats, who traditionally support medical cannabis. But lawmakers are only hearing from those who oppose medical cannabis. We need to get patients back in lawmakers’ offices to tell our side of the story!

    ASA is working hard to build, train, and mobilize the grassroots base of support in California. We have just finished a statewide tour to find out what is happening in communities, identify local organizers, and develop new chapters. Now we are going to use new tools like our Online Activist Training Center and our innovative Think Tank and Policy Shop to train and support activists in local and statewide campaigns.

    We can have a new cadre of medical cannabis activists setting the agenda at the local and state level before lawmakers start the 2012 legislative session. We can pass legislation to defend patients’ civil rights, license cooperatives and collectives, and finally protect medical cannabis growers! But we can only do it if we have the resources to further build, train, and mobilize the grassroots base. Can you help ASA do that right now?

    Please make a special contribution to help ASA turn the tide and make a difference – starting right now!

    Thank you for doing your part!
  • 9.9.9. Raids Remembered



    By: Eugene Davidovich

    The month of September has eternally been etched into memories of medical marijuana patients in San Diego. September 9th, marks the second anniversary of District Attorney (DA) Bonnie Dumanis’ Operation Green Rx raids; the largest one day swat style assault against medical marijuana access in San Diego County’s history.

    In the early hours of Wednesday, September 9, 2009, Dumanis’ underlings, in collaboration with local DEA agents all part of the County’s cross-jurisdictional Narcotic Task Force (NTF), were set loose on the San Diego patient community.

    Under the guise of “cracking down on illegal drug dealers,” that morning, federal and local law enforcement descended on over twenty dispensaries in the County. NTF agents seized medicine, money, patient records, and anything else they could get their hands on.

    When the dust settled, it was discovered that only fourteen of the twenty plus locations raided had signed search warrants issued against them. The rest were intimidated into letting the NTF teams in without any paperwork. The operation was designed to instill fear and chaos into the patient community and to achieve a single goal; outright eradication of access to medical marijuana in the County.

    It was also later discovered that detectives involved in the raids possessed medical marijuana cards themselves. All were obtained under aliases and by falsifying medical conditions by which they duped local doctors into issuing recommendations.

    Detectives joined dispensaries as members and began regularly purchasing medicine from them prior to the raids. This allowed them to identify key management personnel as well as to understand the layout of the facilities in preparation for the day of raids.

    Although dozens of sick and dying patients were arrested on 9/9/9, Dumanis’ office ended up filing charges against only small handful. Jovan Jackson, the director of Answerdam was among the few charged in State court. James Stacy director of Movement in Action, along with a few others were tossed over to the US Attorney’s office for federal prosecution.

    In Stacy’s case, the federal charges carried with them a threat of life in prison. After a year of fighting to be allowed to bring up the words “medical marijuana” at trial, Stacy succeeded.

    With the community’s full support and great legal representation by federal public defenders, the Federal Judge agreed Stacy was in full compliance with state law. Although an official medical marijuana defense was not granted, the Judge agreed there was no way to keep the mention of medical marijuana and Stacy’s compliance with state law out of trial which potentially could have resulted in a federal acquittal, mistrial, or outright jury nullification.

    In order to avoid further embarrassment the day before trial was to start, the US Attorney’s office made Stacy an unprecedented offer. They guaranteed no jail time and agreed to drop all charges if Stacy pled guilty to one count of cultivation.

    Overnight, Stacy went from facing the possibility of life in federal prison, to three years probation with no jail time. Such an unprecedented offer was impossible to refuse and was a clear sign of the US Attorney acknowledging the sheer failure of the raids on legitimate patients.

    Although the US Attorney technically got a conviction in that case, their offer paved the way for all dispensary operators in compliance with state laws who are charged in Federal court to either take their case to trial or demand the ‘Stacy Deal’.

    In Jackson’s case, the raid on September 9th was the second time his facility had been hit in less than a year by Dumanis’ office. The day before the second raid, on September 8, while attending a routine court hearing for charges related to the first raid, Jackson was suddenly and without explanation taken into custody.

    With Jackson in solitary confinement, Answerdam was raided for a second time on September 9th and a new case with a second set of identical charges was filed by Dumanis’ office.

    When Jackson’s first case went to trial, it lasted almost three weeks. Having been assigned a fair Judge, twelve jurors examined all the facts of the case and carefully considered them against the State’s complete medical marijuana law. As a result, they quickly and unanimously found Jackson in compliance and not guilty of all the marijuana related charges.

    In Jackson’s second trial however, Dumanis managed to hand pick Judge Howard Shore, a former prosecutor and traditional prohibitionist who blocked Jackson from using the medical marijuana defense in state court. This time, the jury only saw a redacted version of the laws which specifically excluded the language about collectives and cooperatives, the very language which jurors from the first case relied on in finding Jackson not guilty.

    Having been denied knowledge of the previous trial and unable to apply the medical marijuana defense, jurors in the second trial were forced to convict him. Jackson’s second case is currently under appeal by Americans for Safe Access, the nation’s largest medical marijuana advocacy group.

    Two years later and without question, Operation Green Rx has been an utter failure and colossal waste of taxpayers’ dollars. Aside from Stacy and Jackson, the vast majority of the patients raided on 9/9/9 have not been charged, prosecuted, or even summoned for a court appearance. All the money, cannabis, and other personal property seized that day has not been returned, and those patients who attempted to get their property back through the courts, were told by Dumanis’ office that felony charges would be filed if they tried.

    After realizing that her eradication campaign failed, instead of working with patients to find common ground, Dumanis renamed the operation from ‘Green Rx’ to ‘Green Dope’ to better match her rhetoric of “going after drug dealers” and in the meantime, instructed the NTF Raid Teams to keep their focus on individual patients cultivating medicine, rather than mass raids, and to especially target those contributing their excess to the dispensaries.

    Stemming from raids and investigations conducted by Dumanis’ office post Green Rx and in connection with the new and improved ‘Operation Green Dope’, several cases are already making their way to trial.

    Dumanis recently announced her candidacy for the City of San Diego’s 2012 Mayoral race. If elected she would become Mayor of the largest jurisdiction in the County and a City which over 180 dispensaries as well as over 50,000 medical marijuana patients call home.

    In recent statements in response to media inquiries about her attacks on patients, Dumanis continues to dupe voters, still publicly claiming to support medical marijuana and justifying her incessant attacks on access as fighting “nothing but illegal drug dealers”.

    Patients, caregivers, advocates and concerned citizens, are committed to fight Dumanis’ bias driven war, and will not rest until the she is held accountable and the public is made aware of her track record on this issue.

    As a direct result of Dumanis’ actions, September 9th, will always be remembered as a dark day in San Diego’s medical marijuana history and one that will continue to serve as a clear example of the failed war on medical marijuana patients.

    For more information contact Eugene Davidovich at [email protected]
  • 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.