Pages tagged "Dispensaries"

  • Advocates welcome Delaware as the 16th medical marijuana state, but decry its prohibition on patient cultivation



    Patient advocates welcomed Delaware’s adoption late last week of the 16th medical marijuana state law. However, its prohibition on patient cultivation fails to adequately provide for the needs of patients. Advocates argue that restrictive laws like Delaware’s placate law enforcement and opponents of medical marijuana at the expense of patients’ rights and dignity.

    SB 17, which goes into effect July 1st of this year, would apply to patients with an array of medical conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, severe nausea, wasting syndrome, severe, debilitating pain, that “has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures for more than three months or for which other treatment options produced serious side,” and seizures, or “severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to those characteristic of multiple sclerosis.

    The law sensibly provides for regulated nonprofit medical marijuana production and distribution sites, one location in each of the state’s three counties. Certainly, we’ve come far enough from the passage of the 1996 Compassionate Use Act in California -- the first state medical marijuana law -- to know that the vast majority of patients need a pharmacy-like option that is safe and accessible. However, at the same time, this cannot be patients’ only option.

    Until 2010, with the passage of New Jersey’s law, all 13 previous medical marijuana state laws recognized and protected patient cultivation. The people and legislators of these states realized the importance of patient cultivation, which is why they made such an option the primary focus of their laws. We must understand that not all patients have mobility or access to transportation. Not all patients want to risk frequenting a known establishment that is considered illegal under federal law. Some patients want to maintain their privacy and not be subjected to intense video surveillance commonly used at distribution facilities.

    Then, there’s the federal government. While Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and other groups are mobilizing people to change federal law, the government remains hostile to large-scale production and distribution, whether it’s state licensed or not. Letters sent by U.S. Attorneys to local and state officials in at least 9 medical marijuana states underscores that hostility and intolerance. In fact, letters sent to public official in Montana, Rhode Island, and Washington have either derailed or suspended plans to implement a state distribution licensing system.

    While the law allows for the possession of up to 6 ounces per patient -- more liberal than most other medical marijuana states -- there are plenty of patient-unfriendly provisions to be alarmed about. For example, the requirement of a “bona fide physician-patient relationship” rules out physicians who specialize in medical marijuana and will make it much more difficult for patients to find a doctor willing to provide them with a recommendation. Most physicians remain concerned about repercussions by the federal government, despite their protection under the First Amendment, and refuse to issue recommendations.

    A further restriction came at the last minute when the Delaware Senate removed glaucoma, Crohn’s disease and early stages of hepatitis C from the list of conditions that would qualify. This was done at the behest of Delaware physicians who apparently thought that sufficient evidence of medical efficacy didn’t exist to warrant providing this option -- and protection under the law -- to possibly hundreds of patients.  Finally, just to stick it to those patients who are poor enough to live in public housing -- or for other reasons cannot consume their medical marijuana at home -- the law imposes criminal sanctions for smoking “in any public place.”

    We agree with the Marijuana Policy Project when it says that Delaware’s new law is “the most…tightly-written medical marijuana bill in the country.” However, that’s not necessarily anything to brag about. We also beg to differ that it’s “the most comprehensive” state law. If you look at the law from a patient’s perspective -- something that politicians and “industry”-motivated advocates rarely do these days -- you’ll find that Delware’s law is far from comprehensive.
  • 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.

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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.
  • May 2: Order the DEA to Cease and Desist, Rally for Patients' Rights!

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    Stand in solidarity with me for a National Day of Action this Monday, May 2, 2011.  Our community is sick and tired. We are suffering from chronic or debilitating conditions, and we are weary of false promises that do nothing to protect our rights as patients. 



    After previously giving us a false sense of security, the Obama administration now continues to ignore state laws and raid medical cannabis patients and facilities, while creating new ways to marginalize our community, including issues related to patient privacy, access, banking, taxation, and threats of filing suit against state employees who participate in upholding state law. This community is still under attack. 

    Just yesterday, our community witnessed raid activity in Washington State and on Monday, our community will lose two more of our brothers and sisters to the failed war on drugs.  Dale Shafer and Dr. Mollie fry will turn themselves over to federal agents to serve five-year mandatory minimum sentences for legally participating in state sanctioned medical cannabis programs.  Enough is enough and Monday, May 2, 2011 is our time to take stand against federal interference! 

    Fellow community members and local activists are preparing to deliver ASA’s Cease and Desist to local DEA offices and federal buildings across the country.  Commit to do the same. Join activists in several cities across the country.  Locations include, but are not limited to, the following areas: Washington State, Oregon, Rhode Island, Colorado, Montana, Michigan, Maine, New Jersey, Washington, DC, California, Arizona, Nevada, and Maryland.  To find out what is going on in your area, email [email protected], or print out the Cease and Desist Order and take it to a local DEA Office or Federal Building near you on Monday!! Remember: if you don’t stand up for safe access, who will?

    Special Patients' Rights Rallies will be occurring in both Washington, DC outside of the Department of Justice at 12pEST (event flyer) and outside of the Federal Courthouse in Sacramento, CA at 12pPST for Dale Schafer and Dr. Mollie Fry (event flyer).

    It's thanks to the support from our members that ASA is able to hold Days of Action like this one. Please consider making a donation to ASA today, so we can continue to strengthen our fight for safe access.

    I look forward to participating in our National Day of Action for patients' rights with you on Monday, May 2, 2011.
  • 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
  • MT Governor vetoes repeal, but the fight continues

     

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    Medical cannabis patients in Montana scored a victory yesterday, when Governor Schweitzer vetoed a bill that would have repealed that state’s seven-year old medical cannabis law, but there is little time to celebrate. The state House of Representatives just approved SB 423, a bill that would gut the state’s medical cannabis law and severely limit patients’ access. The bill is now in a joint committee for final revisions before going to the governor’s desk, so we must work for another veto.

    The debate in Montana matters for medical cannabis patients nationwide. Powerful out-of-state lobby organizations are using the effort to repeal or severely curtail the state’s law as a rallying point in a nationwide push against safe access. If we do not draw the line in Montana, patients may soon be fighting to hold ground nationwide. ASA needs your help to ensure we keep moving forward, not backward.



    It doesn't have to be this way. I was in Montana in March, when Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents raided 26 dispensaries, gardens, and homes. I toured the state organizing local resistance and energizing grassroots action. Newly trained and empowered patients in Montana are pushing back and making a difference.

    If ASA had the resources, we could do the same in every state where medical cannabis opponents are attacking safe access. We need your help now more than ever to fight for medical cannabis in the states. Will you make a special contribution to ASA today?

    Thank you for supporting ASA and helping us fight for safe access nationwide!
  • The Feds are Here!



    The feds are here, and they are making their presence known. In March alone, the DEA raided 26 medical cannabis facilities in Montana, two licensed dispensaries in California, and a doctor’s clinic in Michigan. We need to fight back and prepare for our response as a movement to future raids – and unfortunately the DEA has shown it’s just a matter of time.

    ASA’s Emergency Raid Response program prepares patients, providers, and the community how to act and react during a raid, because when it comes to raids, preparation is essential for an effective response effort. We’re expanding the program to all medical cannabis states, and in order to do that, we need your help.


    Our text message alert system is vital to informing local activists when a raid is happening in their area. This creates a visible community protesting the raid. Sign up for ASA’s raid alerts, so you can help show the nation that federal intervention will not be tolerated.

    ASA has orchestrated over two hundred Emergency Raid Response efforts, which have protected countless victims, shortened raids, and helped frame this issue as a patients’ rights issue in the media. We do this by training staff at dispensing centers, preparing action plans for victims, contacting attorneys for raid victims, turning out protestors on the day of the raid, and framing media coverage in response to raids. Your support is vital to ensuring this program reaches patients and providers across the county at little to no cost.

    With federal raids on the rise and recent warnings from US Attorney Michael Ormsby to landlords of medical cannabis facilities in Spokane, Wash., of federal intervention, an immediate response is required. We must prepare patients and providers for the potential of raids and have effective response methods in place before the next wave of raids hits.

    Please help ASA expand our Emergency Raid Response program across the nation. Together, we will bring national attention to Obama’s Administration’s interference in states’ laws.
  • Stop the Raids!



    UPDATE: Patients Speak Up in Montana.

    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is calling on medical cannabis patients and advocates to speak up in opposition to paramilitary-style raids on medical cannabis patients, growers, and providers in Montana and California this week. The Obama Administration needs to hear that Americans do not support targeting legitimate patients, who use medical cannabis to treat the symptoms of AIDS, cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain, and other serious conditions. The President and Department of Justice must allow states to implement and regulate medical cannabis laws, while developing a comprehensive federal policy that protects safe and legal access for every patient.



    The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided twenty-six medical cannabis facilities in Montana over a two-day period this week. This would be egregious at any time, but these raids were timed to coincide with an important vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bill that would repeal the state’s medical cannabis law. The bill died in committee on Monday, but the bills’ author, House Speaker Mike Milburn, vowed to reintroduce it on the floor of the Senate. A vote may be imminent.



    It is no coincidence that the critical vote in the Senate will come right after shock-and-awe style raids statewide. Lawmakers and voters alike will be influenced by media reports suggesting widespread drug trafficking, money laundering, and the like. Conscientious citizens all over the country should be appalled by the fact that the DEA is so clearly used its federal police power to subvert the political process in Montana. Voters in Montana should also be asking which of their elected officials called in federal storm troopers when there were not enough votes to get the repeal bill through committee.

    Montana was not the only state to see a federal crackdown this week. Two licensed medical cannabis collectives in West Hollywood, California, were raided by the DEA on Tuesday. Residents there are stunned, because West Hollywood is often cited as an example of a city that has properly regulated safe access to medicine. Its four legal collectives have business licenses, pay taxes, and operate under careful scrutiny. Was there some urgent threat to public safety that the Sheriff’s Department could not handle without federal reinforcements? Probably not. View more on the West Hollywood raids from Reason.tv.

    The warrants for Tuesday’s raids in West Hollywood remain sealed, so we do not know yet why the DEA seems to have acted outside the guidelines outlined in a memo from Deputy Attorney General David Ogden in October 2009. Ogden wrote then that agents should not make medical cannabis enforcement a priority against “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.” Ogden’s memo was a watershed moment in the struggle for safe access, but we clearly have a long way to go to end federal interference and intimidation once and for all.

    We must not give into complacency or the cynical view that the victims of this week’s raids were “doing something wrong.” We may never know the full story behind the raids. The US Attorney’s offices may or may not prosecute these cases, and if they do, no evidence or testimony about medical cannabis will be allowed in the federal courtroom. But we do know this for certain – until we harmonize federal law with the laws of the states that allow medical cannabis, every patient, grower, and provider is a criminal. That must change before we have the luxury of debating whether or not DEA raids are justified in any given case.

    Americans must speak up in opposition to DEA interference in the Democratic process and the effort to implement and regulate medical cannabis laws. ASA calls on the Obama Administration to end federal raids, allow state and local regulation, and to finally develop a national policy to ensure safe and legal access to medical cannabis for everyone who needs it.
  • ASA Works to Build the Base in MT

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    ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer testified before the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday in opposition to HB 161, a bill that would repeal the state’s six-year old medical cannabis law, before setting off on a three-day tour of the state.  Judiciary Committee members delayed a vote on the bill, which has already been approved by the full House of Representatives. ASA is opposing HB 161 to preserve access for patients in Montana, and calling on lawmakers there to properly regulate medical cannabis instead of repealing it.



    Ms. Sherer is visiting cities around the state this weekend to hold stakeholder’s meetings to talk about how to push back on HB 161. Grassroots opposition to the bill is essential. Research and experience show that lawmakers are more likely to respond to a broad and genuine citizen’s movement than lobbyists in St. Helena. ASA works on the frontlines with patients and providers, because medical cannabis patients advocating for their own needs are the most effective advocates for their own rights. That is why ASA makes training and skills building priorities in our work.

    We ignore the repeal effort in Montana at great risk to patients. Medical cannabis opponents are exploiting growing public ambivalence about medical cannabis nationwide, and this has a real impact on policies that effect patients’ welfare. Opponents are also trying to repeal medical cannabis laws in New Mexico and Oregon. Other states may follow.  This battle will take place at the local level, too, where cities and counties in the fifteen medical cannabis states consider ordinances that severely limit or prohibit safe access to medicine.

    I hope you will support ASA in our efforts to build the powerful and effective grassroots movement to push back on opposition like what we are seeing in Montana – and to push forward in the work of protect and expanding patients’ rights nationwide.
  • Los Angeles Votes on Medical Cannabis Tax

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    On Tuesday, Angelenos will decide whether or not to put an additional 5% tax on medical cannabis and vote in seven City Council races. Medical cannabis patients have a lot at stake in the Primary Election. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is calling on patients and advocates in Los Angeles to reject a “Sin Tax” on medical cannabis by voting no on Measure M, and to consider  City Council Members’stance on medcial cannabis before casting a ballot.

    Tuesday’s Primary Election is a great opportunity to make a difference for patients in a city that is still struggling to implement its medical cannabis program. Less than sixteen percent of registered voters showed up for the last Primary Elections in 2009. That means medical cannabis patients and advocates can make a big difference in the election – if they turn out in larger than expected numbers.



    Measure M will impose a business license tax on patients’ collectives and cooperatives of $50 per $1,000 in gross receipts (5% on top of 9.75% sales tax). This is disproportionate with existing business license taxes in Los Angeles, which range from $1.07 to $5.07 per $1,000 in revenue. Why should legal patients pay almost ten times more tax than anyone else in the city? Is that the legal patients' fair share? Public ambivalence and media bias make medical cannabis an easy revenue target, but that does not make a “sin tax” on medical cannabis fair or reasonable.

    Some proponents argue that the city needs the money from Measure M to offset the cost of implementing the city’s controversial Medical Cannabis Ordinance. However, Measure M funds are not ear marked for that purpose; and the ordinance already requires the collectives and cooperatives to pay for registration, inspection, and enforcement. In reality, Measure M is simply an attempt to raise revenue during tough economic times.

    ASA calls on the Los Angeles City Council, which voted to place Measure M on the ballot,  to shift the tax burden away from legal patients, and to find fair and reasonable solutions to the city’s budget shortfall. ASA and medical cannabis patients are not alone in opposing Measure M. The Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily Breeze have both urged voters to reject the measure.

    Voters will also cast ballots in seven City Council races, and frustration with the protracted regulatory process in the city will be a factor for voters in several districts. City Council Member Bernard Parks (District 8 ) co-sponsored a motion, seconded by Council Member Greig Smith (District 12) to ban medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives outright in December. Medical cannabis patients and advocates in those districts should feel justified in voting for opponents in either race, although neither district is considered “in play” in Tuesday’s election. Medical cannabis voters in District 14 have organized a campaign called “No Way Jose” to unseat incumbent City Council Member Jose Huizar in the city’s closest and most controversial race.

    ASA urges Angelenos to making voting on Tuesday a priority. A relatively small number of voters will decide Measure M and the City Council races, so this is a great opportunity to be influential. So find your polling place and vote no on Measure M on Tuesday.
  • Maryland Legislator Fights for Patients’ Right to Cultivate

    Aimed at establishing the right for patients to reliably and affordably obtain medical marijuana, Maryland House Deputy Majority Whip Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D-Baltimore) introduced an amendment today to a proposed bill to ensure that patients have the right to cultivate their own medicine. House Bill 291 would protect patients from arrest and prosecution, and set up a state-run production and distribution system, but it fails to provide alternatives like self-cultivation for patients who don’t live near a distribution center or who cannot afford the high prices seen at facilities in other states. Before introducing her amendment to HB 291, Delegate Glenn said:
    I’ve had two loved ones succumb to the ravages of cancer -- my mother passed away in June and my brother-in-law passed away 6 years ago. Both of them got to the point where they couldn’t eat and their doctors wished they could recommend medical marijuana to stimulate their appetite. I also know what it’s like to live in poverty and to not be able to afford desperately needed medicine. People should not be denied access to medical marijuana because they cannot afford it or because they cannot travel to locations where it's dispensed. Of course we should control it and regulate it, but we should not shut out people who need it.
    Patient cultivation is currently a right of hundreds of thousands of patients in 14 of the country’s 15 medical marijuana states. New Jersey is the only state to deny its patients the right to cultivate. Now, more than a year after the bill was passed, New Jersey has not registered a single patient, nor has it licensed a single producer or distributor. Subsequently, no patient is able to obtain medical marijuana legally in New Jersey. The Maryland Health and Government Operations Committee and the Judiciary Committee will hear HB 291 at 1pm on Monday, February 28th. Delegate Glenn's amendment will be heard by committee members at that time, as will testimony from patients, doctors and other experts. In preparation for the hearing, Americans for Safe Access issued a brief report on the importance and necessity of patient cultivation. The report points legislators to certain needs that would go unmet if patients were prevented from cultivating, such as affordability, reliability, consistency and quality. For additional information, see ASA’s press release.