Pages tagged "ASA Chapters"

  • 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.

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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
  • Excerpt from Boot Camp: Realizing the Vision

    [caption id="attachment_1288" align="alignnone" width="150" caption="Activist Boot Camp in LA"]
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    This is an excerpt from the openning chapter of the 200-page workbook from ASA's Activist Boot Camp. The next nationwide events will be Marh 19-20. look for local announcements.

    --- from "The Medical Cannabis Advocate's Handbook" ---

    Almost fifteen years of experimenting with state-based medical cannabis laws has made one thing clear: adopting state laws is only the first step in a long and often expensive process to meet the legitimate needs of patients. Some states have taken nearly a decade to enact legislation designed to correct the shortcomings of early victories, ensure access, and guarantee the protection of patients' rights. In other states, however, patients are still waiting for programs that meet their needs.



    The policymaking process continues long after a law has been adopted by a state legislature or citizen initiative, and usually includes the development of rules and regulations for safe access. A vast array of factors can affect the successful implementation of a state medical cannabis law, including legislative intent, administrative capacity, political support, and interest group activity. While adopting new laws may be challenging, ASA believes that the true test of success is whether those laws are properly implemented and the patient community has achieved safe and legal access.

    The implementation of statewide medical cannabis laws is challenging for a number of reasons. First, and most notable, is that administrative agencies are forced to create and enforce regulations that arguably conflict with federal law. Second, statewide medical cannabis laws continue to be laboratories of democracy in our federalist system - and sometimes these experiments fail. And finally, the processes by which many of these laws have been adopted exclude both the development and participation of a local grassroots movement. As a result, policymakers usually do not feel an urgency to implement the law until there is a perceived emergency, and often do not understand the impact of politically expedient compromises on patients’ welfare.

    Thirty years of intransigence by federal authorities has resulted in the patchwork of state laws that underlies our strategy for moving forward. The overwhelming majority of arrests and prosecutions for cannabis-related activity occur at the state and local level, so these Compassionate Use laws offer significant protection to the patients. However, considerable disparities exist among the state laws. For example, California's Compassionate Use Act of 1996 leaves determination about the specific conditions for which medical cannabis should be used to the professional judgment of physicians, while other states narrowly restrict the use of cannabis to a list of specific medical conditions. Theses narrow lists sometimes exclude serious and chronic illnesses for which research has shown cannabis may be helpful.

    Some state laws do provide civil protections for qualified individuals, but in most states, individuals who use or provide medical cannabis continue to suffer pervasive discrimination in employment, child custody, housing, health care, public accommodation, and the like.  A few states have even established production and distribution systems to ensure qualified individuals have access to medical cannabis from licensed distributors, while patients in other states are forced to acquire or grow cannabis on their own. However, because medical cannabis possession, production, and distribution remain illegal under federal law, patients and their providers remain vulnerable to federal raids, arrest, and prosecution, and have no defense in federal court or remedy for the loss of property or freedoms.

    The necessary and proper implementation of state medical cannabis laws and regulation of dispensaries has been frustrated by federal interference, including hundreds of raids and a variety of intimidating tactics (asset forfeitures, threats to landlords, bank account closures, IRS audits, etc.). Even in situations where local officials and governments were in good faith seeking to regulate access to cannabis, the federal government chose to respond with interference and intimidation.
  • Activist Boot Camp

     



    This weekend, patients and advocates in more than twenty cities and nine different states will participate in ASA’s National Call to Action: Activist Boot Camp, the nation’s first virtual skills-building conference for medical cannabis activists. The Activist Boot Camp is a part of ASA’s commitment to educating, training, and empowering a powerful grassroots base nationwide. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have medical cannabis laws today, but patients inside and outside those states continue to struggle for access and fight for their rights. Please take a minute to register for ASA’s Activist Boot Camp today, so that you can be a part of that powerful grassroots base.



    More than fourteen years of experience with medical cannabis laws in the United States has made one thing clear: the adoption of state laws the first steps in a long and hard process to meet the legitimate needs of patients. ASA believes that the true test of success is whether those laws are properly implemented, and the legitimate patient community has achieved safe and legal access. We are well on our way, but challenges remain.

    That is why the Activist Boot Camp is so important. State and federal lawmakers rarely hear from their constituents about medical cannabis. It will take a strategic and persistent effort to reverse that trend. If ASA can mobilize that grassroots base, we can show lawmakers that there is a political safe space for supporting good legislation, and a potential downside to standing in its way. They key to achieving this is to put the voices of those invested, empowered patients at the front of the debate in 20011 and 2012. So sign up for the Activist Boot Camp nearest you today!
  • ASA protests in MI and NV

    Medical cannabis patients in Michigan are upset that the US Department of Justice wants the state to turn over the names of legal medical cannabis patients in that state. This latest escalation in federal interference and intimidation brought protesters out into the streets Lansing and Grand Rapids this week. ASA is grateful to Michigan Chapter Coordinator Robin Schneider for braving the cold weather to let lawmakers know that patients’ privacy must be protected. (Video from Las Vegas - click More.)



    Meanwhile in Las Vegas, ASA Chapter Coordinator Eric Woodson rallied in opposition to recent Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids and arrests in the city. According to the DEA, the most recent arrests were connected to dispensary raids conducted in September of last year. Nevada law does not provide for community-based access programs, leaving many legal patients who cannot or will not grow medicine with no legal option.

  • 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.
  • ASA Advocates Take Possession of Marijuana Plants from San Diego County Sheriff

    The following is a guest blog by Marcus Boyd and Eugene Davidovich, San Diego Chapter of Americans for Safe Access.

    District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and her ‘fierce fight’ against medical marijuana patients suffered another devastating defeat this week. Advocates from the local chapter of Americans for Safe Access (SDASA), the nation’s largest advocacy group promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research, successfully obtained an order from the courts for the release of five large impounded medical cannabis plants. The judge ordered the plants released to a representative of SDASA for their safe keeping.

    On Wednesday afternoon of this week, Marcus Boyd of SDASA retrieved the plants from San Diego County Sheriff’s evidence locker.

    [caption id="attachment_924" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="ASA Advocate Marcus Boyd in front of Sheriff's Department"]
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    The patient, to whom the plants belong, remains in custody for cultivating them despite all the charges in his case being dropped, and will receive his plants upon release.

    On September 2, John Palmer, a resident of Imperial Beach was arrested by Detective Michael Thomas Neumann and other members of the San Diego Sheriff's Department during a ‘routine’ probation search. Following the search and the discovery of the plants, Palmer was charged with possession, possession for sale, and cultivation of marijuana.

    At the time of the search Palmer was in full compliance with state law, in fact, deputies found Palmer's state issued Medical Marijuana Identification Card as well as another patients' doctor's recommendation posted on the wall next to the grow.

    During the search, Palmer explained to deputies that he was lawfully and collectively growing the medicine, as approved by the Probation Department. He explained that three weeks earlier he was granted a court order from a judge specifically allowing him to grow marijuana while on probation.

    Detective Neumann not being aware of the law, called the infamous local medical marijuana eradicator and ‘expert’ cultivator, Detective Steve Reed, to find out if Palmer could be charged with cultivation and possession for sale.  Detective Reed said, “medical pot? Ha! Book-em and charge-em!"

    Deputies arrested Palmer, impounded the plants and incarcerated him in the Vista jail where he remains today and is scheduled to be released on Monday October 25, 2010.

    The other patient who was collectively cultivating the plants with Palmer and whose collective grow was confiscated during Palmer's arrest was not arrested himself. After learning of Palmer's arrest he was able to quickly make contact with Marcus Boyd of SDASA in search of assistance.

    Boyd, who hosts the monthly South Bay meeting for SDASA in Imperial Beach, immediately contacted Salina Epley, Palmer’s public defender in the case, began providing assistance with the case as well as attending Palmer’ court hearings along with SDASA Advisory Board Member Terrie Best.

    During the court process, the prosecutor was insistent upon keeping Palmer in custody, despite being told by the Judge that Palmer would likely be found not guilty if the case went to trial. The Judge urged that a plea bargain be worked out.

    All plea offers from the prosecutor were unreasonable and therefore unacceptable to Palmer. A plea deal was not reached and a trial date was set for November 10th.

    On October 6th, Palmer was back in court for an evidentiary / readiness hearing. That day, after reviewing the motions filed by the public defender, the prosecutor moved to drop all marijuana related charges against Mr. Palmer.

    At a prior hearing however, the judge ruled that the prosecutor had provided sufficient evidence to violate Palmer's probation status remanding him into custody for another 20 days.

    In light of the extended jail time, the public defender conferred with her client and while officially on the record, recognized Americans for Safe Access's support in the case and formally requested the court, "immediately release the five mature plants to Americans for Safe Access's representative, Marcus Boyd, for safe keeping."

    Surprisingly, the prosecutor did not argue, stipulated to the request, and the court did not hesitate in granting the motion.

    John Palmer left the courtroom in good spirits and was very happy to have won his case. He yelled "thank you" while deputies escorted him out of court.

    Yesterday morning with the court order in hand, Marcus Boyd and Eugene Davidovich of SDASA, went to the San Diego County Sheriff’s evidence room and picked up the plants with no delay or resistance from Detective Neumann or any other law enforcement officials.

    In fact when Boyd called Detective Neumann and asked him to fax over a release of the property form to the evidence locker, Neumann replied “I don't have a problem with it and I won't stand in the way.  I'll send them whatever they need this morning.”

    [caption id="attachment_923" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Seized plants handed over to ASA advocates"]
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    When Boyd and Davidovich arrived to retrieve the property, it was found that all the plants had been clipped at the stem right above the roots. In fact the day they were confiscated, Detective Neuman, instead of transporting them and taking care of the property as required by procedure, simply cut them and stuffed them in a large paper bag, ensuring that they could not be usable when and if they were ever retrieved.

    The plants were immediately rushed to Kim Twolan, the founder of Mother Earth Co-op located in Mission Hills.  Twolan, who is also a SDASA Advisory Board member and serves on San Diego City's Medical Marijuana Task Force after thorough examination and several attempts to revive the plants, pronounced them dead upon arrival.

    Palmer intends to file a claim for the damaged property upon being released from custody on Monday.

    SDASA member and local criminal defense attorney Melissa Bobrow has agreed to help Palmer with the property damage claim against the county.
  • Peaceful Demonstration in Trenton, NJ Today

    On October 6, the NJ Department of Health released its plan for the implementation of New Jersey's medical marijuana regulations. To say these regulations are restrictive would be putting it mildly - NJ seems to be aiming for the most restrictive regulations of any medical marijuana state out there. These regulations have sparked outrage on both sides of the aisle and a press conference and a peaceful demonstration are scheduled for today, October 18 from 12:00pm to 2:00pm on the front steps of the State House in Trenton.