Pages tagged "Congress"

  • 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.
  • Victory in Arizona!

    Arizona voters approved Proposition 203, making that state the 15th to legalize medical cannabis. Supporters are celebrating the results after ten days of uncertainty during which victory seemed to be slipping away. Patients and advocates deserve congratulations. Proposition 203 is an important step forward for Arizona and in the state-by-state march to bring safe access to patients nationwide. Adopting state initiatives and passing legislation is a crucial step, but we can see from our experience that state medical cannabis laws do not necessarily translate into support from the state’s Congressional delegation. In California, where medical cannabis has been legal since 1996, long-time Senators Feinstein and Boxer have yet to pick up the mantle of safe access. Control of the US House of Representatives has shifted from the Democrats to the Republicans. This will test the Obama Administration’s evolving policy on state-based answers for medical cannabis. It is more important than ever that Americans for Safe Access (ASA) bring an educated and empowered constituency with real solutions to the table. We have to show policymakers how to bridge the divide between federal and state laws regarding medical cannabis – and prove that there is a safe political space to make it happen. Let’s celebrate our victory in Arizona; and then get down to the hard work of moving Congress and changing federal law. We still have a lot of work to do in ending the arrests and prosecutions of patients, ending the ban on research, and creating an access plan for the entire nation. Suggested Action: Email the US Senate Judiciary Committee about confirmation hearings for DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart.
  • A New National Landscape for Patients



    Yesterday was a hard day for medical marijuana advocates across the country.  We defeated several local initiatives banning dispensaries in California and Colorado and (fingers crossed) our "NotCooley"campaign provided the narrow margin necessary to ensure victory for California Attorney General-Elect Kamala Harris.  But voters rejected statewide medical marijuana initiatives in Arizona, Oregon and South Dakota, while measures to increase taxes on medicine in California won.   And of course, the US House of Representatives is now in the hands of dangerous politicians who do not share our vision of safe access.


    We have never had so much to lose and our fight begins today!  It is more important than ever that we work together to protect the gains we've made and fight even harder for what we know is possible.  Americans for Safe Access (ASA) needs your support now more than ever.
     
    The national landscape for medical marijuana has changed, but our course remains the same. Since 2006, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has been working full time in Washington, DC to: 1) Put an end to federal interference with state medical marijuana laws, 2) End the ban on clinical research, and 3) Create a plan to guarantee safe access for the entire nation. That work is ongoing and we will not stop until all Americans have safe and legal access.
     
    But we cannot do this alone. This year, I traveled all over the country to meet patients and advocates and I am deeply moved by your commitment to safe access.  Unfortunately, I am also shocked by how few of you engage regularly with your federal representatives.  If you are not meeting with them, then they are only hearing about medical cannabis from our opposition.
     
    These election results mean we need to fight harder!  With your help, ASA can be ready for new challenges and bigger victories.  Together we can stand up to our opponents in Congress and prepare for 2012 and beyond.   Can you make a contribution  to ASA today, so that we can keep fighting?

    We must be our own liberators; no one is going to do our work for us.
      
    Republican Party control of the House of Representatives may make our work more difficult, and that’s why it is more important than ever that ASA bring an educated and empowered constituency with real solutions to the table. We have to show the new Congress that patients’ voices cannot be ignored! That is the only way we will get policymakers to bridge the divide between federal and state laws regarding medical marijuana.
     
    ASA will continue to work on Capitol Hill and with the Administration to improve the federal government's understanding about medical marijuana, as well as both the immediate and long term needs of our members. We may have lost several battles yesterday, but we have not lost the fight by any means. We’ve become used to working hard to defy the odds, but we need your support right now to keep making a positive difference in the lives of patients.  Join the fight today and help us make that difference!
  • ASA 2010 Election Voter Guides


    Access matters, and so does your vote!


    The mid-term election is on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, and the stakes are high for medical cannabis advocates across the nation!  It is more important than ever that we go to the polls and vote for the candidates and ballot measures that will promote safe, legal, and affordable access to marijuana for therapeutic use and research.

    Americans for Safe Access has released 2010 Election Voter Guides to help medical cannabis advocates make informed choices about the candidates and ballot measures that advance the safe access agenda.

    Please VOTE! on Tues., November 2nd.

  • Dr. Andrew Weil Applauds New Documentary Film “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer”

    A new documentary by Len Richmond, “What if Cannabis Cured Cancer,” is starting to turn heads. Dr. Andrew Weil recently reviewed Richmond’s film, calling it “excellent,” and last week answered a question about medical cannabis on his web site.
    [E]xciting new research suggests that the cannabinoids found in marijuana may have a primary role in cancer treatment and prevention. A number of studies have shown that these compounds can inhibit tumor growth in laboratory animal models. In part, this is achieved by inhibiting angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels that tumors need in order to grow. What's more, cannabinoids seem to kill tumor cells without affecting surrounding normal cells. If these findings hold true as research progresses, cannabinoids would demonstrate a huge advantage over conventional chemotherapy agents, which too often destroy normal cells as well as cancer cells.
    Though not referenced in Dr. Weil’s answer, much of the recent investigation into inhibiting cancer growth using cannabis comes from Dr. Sean D. McAllister, of the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and medical cannabis researcher Jahan Marcu, who is also on the Medical & Scientific Advisory Board of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). Richmond’s film is narrated by Emmy-winning actor Peter Coyote and has a host of medical cannabis experts, including Dr. McAllister, Dr. Donald Abrams, Professor of Clinical Medicine and Integrative Oncology at UCSF, Dr. Robert Melamede, University of Colorado Biology Chairman and ASA Advisory Board member, as well as researchers from Spain and Israel. Richmond’s film asks:
    Could the chemicals found in marijuana prevent and even heal several deadly cancers? Could the tumor-regulating properties of “cannabinoids” someday replace the debilitating drugs, chemotherapy, and radiation that harms as often as it heals?
    The film also includes a bonus comedy puppet short, “Kurt Cannabis Meets Connie Cancer,” with the voices of Roseanne Barr and Malcolm McDowell. Drawing attention to the federal government’s outdated position that “marijuana has no currently accepted medical use,” Dr. Weil concluded in his review of Richmond’s film:
    If we need more evidence that our current policy on cannabis is counterproductive and foolish, here it is.
    Richmond’s film will be screening at the Sausalito Film Festival on Sunday, August 15th, at 1:30 pm, followed by a panel discussion on cannabis and cancer with Richmond, Dr. Donald Abrams, Dr. Jeffery Hergenrather, Dr. Sean McAllister. For additional information, go to Len Richmond’s web site: http://LenRichmondFilms.com.
  • Advocates Decry DEA Obstruction to Medical Marijuana Research - Obama Can and Should Regain an Adherence to Scientific Principles

    Only days before President Bush is to leave office, his administration has dealt yet another blow to scientific integrity by refusing to implement the recommendations of DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner and open up the production of cannabis (marijuana) for research purposes. For more than 40 years, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has maintained a monopoly on the cultivation of cannabis for Food & Drug Administration-approved scientific studies. Instead of opening up research on the medical properties of cannabis, the Bush administration has chosen to hide its head in the sand and obstruct the advancement of this important therapeutic substance. In June of 2001, University of Massachusetts at Amherst professor Lyle Craker, an experienced research botanist, applied for a license to cultivate cannabis for FDA-approved studies. After nine days of testimony from many experts and administration officials, Judge Bittner issued a set of recommendations in February 2007, concluding that the current sole-supply of cannabis by NIDA was insufficient for the level of research that cannabis deserves and that expanded research was "in the public interest." After nearly two years of delay, acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart issued a ruling today that refuses to implement Judge Bittner's recommendations. This refusal by Leonhart to adhere to her own DEA Administrative Law Judge is especially disappointing and insensitive in light of strong Congressional support for expanded research and a desire to dismantle the current monopoly on research cannabis production. In 2008, forty-five members of Congress sent a letter to then-DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, urging her to accept Judge Bittner's recommendations and calling the federal monopoly on cannabis production "unjustified." Incoming president Barack Obama has an opportunity to correct this shortsighted position that fails to recognize medical and scientific precedent. Rather than turn a cold shoulder to the reams of scientific studies pointing to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, president-elect Obama has the opportunity to develop a sensible policy with regard to medical cannabis research. In addition, since acting-DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart has shown little capacity for understanding the need for more research into cannabis, Obama should appoint a candidate to head the DEA that can grasp the importance of advancing this important medicinal substance. To be sure, anything less will perpetuate the outdated position of the Bush Administration and deny hundreds of thousands of Americans a medicine that has been shown to be effective at treating innumerable illnesses and the side effects of toxic treatments.
  • California Weekly Round Up

    Senate Health Committee Votes to Move SJR 20 Forward From ASA's Chief of Staff, Rebecca Saltman

    The Senate Health Committee showed their commitment to safe access for patients this Wednesday by approving the resolution calling on an end to federal intervention in California and DEA attacks on medical cannabis patients, SJR 20. The 7-4 vote, split down party lines, is an key victory in putting an end to DEA raids in California. The Senate Judiciary Committee will be hearing the resolution next. Their vote will determine whether or not the resolution will move forward to a vote on the Senate floor and then the Assembly floor. Since this is a non-binding resolution, it will not need the Governor's signature. This is a very exciting move forward for medical cannabis patients throughout the state. If passed on the Senate and Assembly floors, this resolution will send a resounding statement nationwide saying to the Federal government that Californians are taking a stand and calling for an end to the attacks! Read more about the hearing on ASA's blog.

    SJR 20 is the Senate Joint Resolution that calls for an end to DEA attacks on California’s medical cannabis patients and providers and further calls on the President and Congress to enact federal legislation to end the raids. If passed, this will be the first time in U.S. history that a state legislature has denounced the DEA’s interference in state laws and tactics used against medical cannabis patients and providers. To read more about SJR 20, visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/SJR20 Thank you to those who testified on Wednesday in support of SJR 20, including: Lisa Sawoya, Hollywood Compassionate Collective Yvonne Westbrook-White, patient/advocate (see her video testimonial here: www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/VideoTestimonial) Don Duncan, Americans for Safe Access Aaron Smith, Marijuana Policy Project Dale Gieringer, California NORML

    There are several important medical cannabis bills and resolutions being heard by the state Senate and Assembly Committees over the next few weeks. ASA will continue to update our lists as things move forward. If you are not yet signed up for ASA's Forums to receive instant alerts, go to www.AmericansforSafeAccess.org/ASAForums

    Medical CannabisProvider, Michael Martin, Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges

    On Wednesday Tainted Compassionate Medicinals operator, Michael Martin, plead guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to manufacture a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana. Martin now faces up to five years in a federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and several years of supervised release. On September 26, 2007, the DEA raided five locations in Oakland and San Leandro, allegedly confiscating hundreds of edibles and 460 plants, and arresting Jessica Sanders (30), Michael Anderson (42), and Diallo McLinn (35). After a press conference on October 4, Michael Martin (33), who had been on vacation during the raid, voluntarily turned himself in. All four were originally charged with conspiracy to manufacture or distribute controlled substances and are out on bail. Two of the defendants have since had their charges reduced to misdemeanors and Sanders' charge has been reduced as well. Tainted Medicinal Edibles were available for patients as an alternative to smoking at dispensing collectives across the state. The emotional hearing was short and ended with Martin leaving the courtroom and nearly 50 supporters of Martin, his family, and medical cannabis exiting the courtroom all at once. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 2, 2008 at 2:30pm. Read more about the hearing in ASA Chief of Staff, Rebecca Saltzman's, blog, Vanessa Nelson's Article, and Michael Martin's blog on FreeTainted.com Los Angeles Activists and Victims of DEA Raids Rally in Response to Federal Attacks From ASA's California Campaign Director, Don Duncan Sixty medical cannabis patients and advocates protested in front of the DEA offices at the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday in response to last week’s DEA raids in the Los Angeles area. The protesters heard first hand from Virgil Grant, whose collectives and home were raided on Thursday in a coordinated paramilitary-style operation that involved dozens of DEA agents and police officers from Los Angeles, Gardena, and Compton. Before the protest, I joined Virgil Grant, Yami Balonos, Michael Levitt, and Sarah Armstrong at the Los Angeles City Council meeting where we asked that the council to move quickly to re-convene the city working group that is working on regulations for collectives and to oppose the DEA's interference tactics. Council Member Janice Hahn said she would reconvene the working group. California. Next Wednesday, April 2, the council will vote on a resolution endorsing CA Senator Carole Migden’s Senate Joint Resolution 20 calling on the President and US Congress to end the raids. See below in the City and County Hearings section for more details. Thanks to everyone who came out to support Virgil and his family! Watch the Fox 29 coverage of the rally and hearing. Patients File Against Mendocino County's Ballot Initiative Measure B Mendocino County Attorney, Edie Lerman, filed a lawsuit on behalf of medical cannabis patients Paula A. Laguna and George Hanamoto challenging the legality of ballot initiative Measure B. This Mendocino County initiative calls for a stricter cultivation limits for medical cannabis patients than the California state limit and a repeal of the 2000 initiative Measure G, further limiting the number of plants a medical cannabis patient can have Measure G decriminalized personal use of cannabis, with the intent to create safer access for medical cannabis patients. Measure G Also Allowed patients to cultivate up to 25 plants for personal use. The lawsuit filed on Wednesday states that Measure B cannot be a ballot initiative because there are two distinct components to the bill: the repeal of Measure G and limiting the plant limits for medical cannabis patients. California's state constitution forbids initiatives from containting more than one subject.

  • Obama: "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state [medical marijuana] laws."

    I was heartened to hear last Saturday words that cut right through the federal war on medical marijuana patients by one of the likeliest candidates to be our next U.S. President. In an interview with Mail Tribune of Oregon, Barack Obama stated, in answer to a question on medical marijuana, “…I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that's entirely appropriate.” Obama then uttered the following decisive and sensible phrase, giving hope to medical marijuana patients and advocates throughout the country:
    I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.
    Ideally, Obama would commit to changing federal policy around medical marijuana and allow legal access to those who benefit from it. Unfortunately, the federal government continues to ignore the mountain of evidence that marijuana has medical efficacy for a number of health conditions. Eventually, the federal government will align with the vast majority of U.S. citizens that support medical marijuana, and maybe that day will come with Obama in the White House. In the meantime, however, we can at least get the Bush Administration to end its harmful medical marijuana raids. While Obama’s words may not be strong enough to pierce the flak jackets of this Administration’s DEA agents, they may eventually resonate with the new DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart or Attorney General Michael Mukasey (and maybe they need to hear from more of us too). What Obama’s words do give us is hope for the future; that, at the least, the federal government will not hinder states that choose to establish medical marijuana laws. No need to sit around for that day to come, though. There’s something that we can do right now to ensure that outcome and more quickly. Americans for Safe Access has been urging the top candidates to pledge that they will introduce an Executive Order to end DEA activity in states that have passed medical marijuana laws. Sound familiar? Maybe he lifted the idea from our Executive Order campaign. Regardless, he has not formally pledged yet. Here’s your chance to urge Obama and Clinton to officially pledge to introduce an Executive Order, if elected President, that cuts off funding to the Department of Justice for enforcement against medical marijuana in states that have adopted such laws. Please consider emailing either or both of them from our Executive Order campaign page, or write to them at the following addresses: Senator Hillary Clinton Hillary for President 4420 North Fairfax Drive Arlington, VA 22203 Senator Barack Obama Obama for America P.O. Box 8102 Chicago, IL 60680 Just last week, six dispensaries were raided by the DEA in the Los Angeles area, aptly illustrating how this issue could not be more timely and important for our next President. Act now!
  • California Weekly Round Up

    San Francisco Board of Supervisors Vote to Further Protect Safe Access From ASA SF Core Member, Alex Franco This week, the medical cannabis community celebrated the approval of two important pieces of legislation that will help to protect safe access in San Francisco, when the Board of Supervisors passed two key resolutions. The first resolution voted on re-establishes the city's sanctuary status and calls on the U.S. Congress and Mayor Gavin Newsom to stand up for patients rights and put an end to DEA's interferences. This passed by a 7-2 vote with Supervisors Sean Eslbernd and Carmen Chu. This legislation was introduced by Supervisor Chris Daly, drafted by attorney Pat Goggin, and worked on by activists from San Francisco ASA, Harvey Milk Club and Axis of Love. The second is a resolution that allows for dispensaries to stay open after the March 1st deadline pending an amendment to the current ordinance. The resolution passed unanimously! This legislation was also championed by Chris Daly and was worked on by activist of ASA SF, Americans for Safe Access, the Compassionate Care Council, Drug Policy Alliance, and the Marijuana Policy Project. Supervisor Allioto-Pier was absent for both votes. Congratulations to all who worked tirelessly on these resolutions! Check out CBS's coverage of the resolutions. ASA Urges BOE to Protect Sales Tax Revenue ASA's California Director, Don Duncan, testified at the Board of Equalization (BOE) hearing in Culver City this week. There were approximately fifty people present and a dozen speakers -- although only one talking about medical cannabis. Don Duncan sent Chairwoman Chu and the other Board Members copies of ASA's sales tax fact sheet, along with Senator Carole Migden's sales tax amnesty bill and non-cooperation resolution. Duncan praised Vice-Chairwoman Yee for the op-ed piece she authored with Senator Migden in the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month. He emphasized that the timing of the op-ed's release was perfect because it coincided with the recent meeting with the Governor's senior staff in Sacramento. During his testimony, Duncan reiterated that dispensaries are legal in California and generated an estimated $100 million dollars in sales tax revenue in 2007. He also told the Board that federal interference and intimidation threaten both patients and revenue. Duncan asked the board to support Senator Midgen's efforts and to encourage the Governor to take visible action. Following his comments, Vice Chairwoman Betty Yee thanked the staff for working so hard on the issue and said it was a very tough time for dispensaries. A larger group of advocates and collective operators will be attending a similar hearing in Sacramento next month. Contra Costa County Votes to Thwart Safe Access This week, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted to limit safe access in the unincorporated regions of the county. The unanimous decision banned the opening of any new dispensaries in Contra Costa County. The ban, however, allows the one current dispensary in the unincorporated area of the county to stay open, M.E.D. Dispensary in El Sobrante. Since M.E.D. Dispensary was approved for a land-use permit prior to the 2006 moratorium in Contra Costa, the Board of Supervisor's decision will not affect the dispensary. Thank you to the medical cannabis supporters and activists who attended and spoke at the hearing. Read more about the ban in the Contra Costa Times and the Mercury Times.
  • Showing Schwarzenegger the Way

    This morning, the San Francisco Chronicle published an op-ed piece authored by California Senator Carole Migden and Board of Equalization Chairwoman Betty Yee decrying the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) crack down on medical cannabis and the impact it has on property owners, state coffers, and legal patients. The letter urges the federal government to “back off and respect state compassionate use laws that authorize a network of responsible, law abiding and tax-paying medical marijuana providers.” This is a far cry from the usually sensationalized rhetoric to which we are more accustomed, and is a breath of fresh air – and common sense – for patients and their loved ones statewide. Senator Migden introduced Senate Joint Resolution 20 into the State Legislature this month calling for an end to the federal interference that she says costs the state millions of dollars in lost revenue, forces medical cannabis providers underground, and harms legal patients. If adopted, the resolution will send the strong message to Washington, DC, that California lawmakers remain committed to fully implementing the 1996 voter initiative that legalized medical cannabis in the state and to ending federal persecution of patients and providers. Board of Equalization Chairwoman Betty Yee joined the Senator in criticizing the impact the DEA raids, saying that federal interference and intimidation cost the state millions of dollars in lost tax revenue and badly needed jobs. As Chairwoman of the elected body charged with assessing and collecting sales tax for the cash-strapped state, Yee has a special interest seeing to it that medical cannabis facilities remain open and pay their fair share. She worries, however, that providers will be forced to close their doors or move underground to avoid federal attacks – a very real concern. The significance of having a State Senator and the Chairwoman of the Board of Equalization speak out on behalf of medical cannabis should not be missed. Elected officials are just now feeling the hardship caused by DEA interference – which escalated to new heights last year with more than 50 raids, several indictments, and more than 300 letters threatening property owners who rent to medical cannabis facilities with prosecution and civil asset forfeiture. US House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers is finally getting some high-level support for his stance against the DEA tactics and promised investigation. The op-ed piece was timely, appearing in Migden and Yee’s hometown paper on the same day the ASA Chief of Staff Rebecca Saltzman, Legal Director Kris Heremes, and I met for the first time with representatives from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s’ office to discuss federal interference and what the Governor can do to help. It is too soon to know if the Governor will take visible action in response to ASA’s grassroots campaign, but Senator Migden and Chairwoman Yee are certainly pointing him in the right direction. With today’s op-ed, these two leaders join police veteran and Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine, Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty, and thousands of medical cannabis advocates in calling on the Governor to defend patients’ access and the will of voters. We may be approaching a sea change in the state and federal debate over medical cannabis, but what happens from here depends on whether or not grassroots advocates can persuade the Governor and Legislature to put their considerable clout behind Representative Conyers’ effort to stop DEA interference in California. Local and state leaders should stand up… and the Governor should lead the way.