Pages tagged "Dispensaries"

  • Cannabis News Around the Nation

    Two weeks of medical cannabis news in review.
    • Congresswoman Introduces Bill to Protect Landlords of Compliant Medical Marijuana Businesses - ASA PR
    • Michigan court rules localities cannot use federal law as an excuse for violating state laws protecting medical cannabis patients - The Detroit News
    • Case on Benefits of Marijuana Heads to Court - Huffington Post
    • LA Councilman Bill Rosendahl comes out at as a medical cannabis patient - LA Times
    • Detailed Rules for Medical Marijuana Proposed in Maine - Kennebec Journal
    • Pharmacy Shutdown Hoax Revealed - San Diego ASA
    • Medical Marijuana Advocates Mourn Pot Club Closures with Mock Funeral - SF Weekly
    • Arizona prosecutors urge Governor Jan Brewer to end the medical marijuana program, citing threats from federal prosecutors. The Governor declined to intervene - Arizona Republic
    Jonathan Bair is ASA's Social Media Director.
  • Support HR 6335 to protect patients' access

     

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    US Rep. Lee[/caption]

    The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is trying to confiscate property used to cultivate or provide medical cannabis to patients, even when it is legal under state law. Americans for safe Access (ASA), the nation’s leading medical cannabis patients’ advocacy organization, needs your help today stop them.

    Take a minute right now to ask your US Representative to co-sponsor and support HR 6335, the “States' Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act.”

    US Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced a HR 6335 last night to stop federal intimidation in the seventeen states and the District of Columbia where medical cannabis is already legal. HR 6335 will prevent the DOJ from using federal civil asset forfeiture laws against medical cannabis cultivators and providers who are in compliance with their state’s medical cannabis laws.



    This is not a hypothetical threat. The DOJ has already initiated civil asset forfeiture proceedings against the property owner of California’s largest medical cannabis patients’ collective, and the threat of additional federal action has sent shock waves through the medical cannabis community nationwide. Numerous providers’ associations have already been closed or evicted in response to federal intimidation.

    Federal civil asset forfeiture laws were created to target large-scale narcotic traffickers, but the DOJ is using these draconian measures to target legally-organized and operated medical cannabis associations. This is fundamentally unfair, and we have to stop it. HR 6335 will prevent the DOJ for misusing the powerful and controversial civil asset forfeiture laws against medical cannabis patients, cultivators, and providers whose conduct is legal under state law.

    Please help ASA stop this injustice. States should be free to permit and regulate the medical use of cannabis. This may eventually lead to a national policy that protects legitimate patients from prosecution and the dangers of the illicit market – if we stop the federal intimidation now. Ask your US Representative to co-sponsor and support HR 6335 today.

    ASA is committed to stopping the federal interference and intimidation, so that patients can have safe access to medicine. But we need your help to fight this battle in Congress, the federal courts, and in the states. Can you please make a contribution of $35, $50, $100, or whatever you can afford to help ASA pass HR 6335 and accomplish our other important work?

    Download a copy of the bill and ASA's Fact Sheet to learn more. Thank you for supporting HR 6335 and ASA.
  • SF patients get creative to protest feds



    Hundreds of ASA members and allies staged a funeral procession through the streets of San Francisco yesterday to protest the closing of the Vapor Room, one of the city’s venerable and legally-permitted medical cannabis patients’ collectives. Protesters with full funeral regalia marched from Vapor Room in the Lower Haight-Ashbury District to Federal Building downtown. But they made a special stop along the way.

    The march stopped briefly at an alley for a little creative street theatre. Activists produced a giant puppet depicting US Attorney Melinda Haag, who orchestrated the current federal crackdown in the San Francisco Bay Area, and performed a satirical ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a new “dispensary” for patients: the alley! The oversized action – complete with a long red ribbon, big ceremonial scissors, and the larger-than-life puppet – sent an unmistakable message to the crowd and the media. Closing legally-permitted patients’ associations sends legal patients back to the alleys to find the medicine they need. (More pictures after the jump...)





    The Vapor Room was forced to close after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) threatened the landlord with civil asset forfeiture charges. Civil asset forfeiture is a procedure by which the federal government can confiscate property used to commit a crime. The law was intended to fight large-scale drug trafficking operations; but in this case, the “crime” is providing medical cannabis in accordance with state law! Threats of civil asset forfeiture are a central component of the latest federal crackdown on medical cannabis, which started with a press conference with Ms. Haag and her colleagues last October.

    Unfortunately, they are not just making threats. The DOJ filed civil asset forfeiture actions against another model Bay Area patients’ association last month. Harborside Health Center, the largest medical cannabis facility in the state, is facing a tough fight in federal court now that their property owner is in the federal crosshairs. Federal pressure on Harborside Health Center and other kinds of federal intimidation drew hundreds of protesters to a rally in front of Oakland City Hall during a recent fundraising visit by President Obama.



    San Francisco ASA members and their allies are to be commended for staging a creative and effective action. Events like this one dramatize the issues surrounding the federal crackdown for the community and the media, and that is important to getting the message out. A funeral march, coffins with flowers, a giant puppet, over-sized scissors, and the rest also make great photo opportunities for image-hungry reporters.

    It behooves all of us fighting the federal attack on medical cannabis to be creative in how we tell our story. We are going to need the most effective messages and vehicles for messages that we can get. Do not underestimate the power of one good image in the public eye. Keep up that good work, and we will keep changing minds and winning allies in the fight for safe access!

    Thanks to ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer for coming all the way from Washington, DC, for this event. ASA staff members Courtney Sheats, Tony Bowles, and Hunter Holliman were also present.
  • National News in Review

    A week of national news about medical cannabis, in review. If you live in Northern California, be part of making the news by protesting Obama's crackdown on state-legal dispensaries when he visits Oakland on Monday.
    • Federal Judge Orders Defendant to Stop Taking Marinol - Toke of the Town
    • University of Saskatchewan researchers have discovered the chemical pathway that Cannabis sativa uses to create bioactive compounds called cannabinoids - Phys.org
    • Obama’s Pot Problem - Salon.com
    • Most Active Constitutional Cannabis Lawyer - East Bay Express
    • Truth In Trials Act, Medical Marijuana Protection Bill, Proposed By Bipartisan Group Of Lawmakers - The Huffington Post
    • One in eight with fibromyalgia uses cannabis as medicine - Reuters
    • Obama's Attorney Has Come Unhinged: Melinda Haag's Crusade Against Medical Pot Jeopardizes California's Safety - Steph Sherer in the Huffington Post
  • Cutting through the legal quagmire, patients demand safe and legal access to medical marijuana



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Last Friday, patient advocates Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed an amicus ‘friend of the court’ brief in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Center to convey the urgent need for safe and legal access to medical marijuana. In what is possibly the most important issue currently facing hundreds of thousands of patients in California, ASA urged the State Supreme Court to reject the notion that municipalities can ban local distribution of medical marijuana, thereby cutting off access. Specifically, ASA argued in its brief that:
    While municipalities may pass reasonable regulations over the location and operation of medical marijuana collectives, they cannot ban them absolutely. These bans thwart the Legislature’s stated objectives of ensuring access to marijuana for the seriously ill persons who need it in a uniform manner throughout the state.

    In addition to the Riverside case, the State Supreme Court is reviewing the Pack v. City of Long Beach decision, which involves issues of federal preemption. Adding even more appellate decisions to the mix, last week the Second District issued two conflicting rulings. One of the rulings in County of Los Angeles v. Alternative Medicinal Cannabis Collective held that dispensaries were legal under state law and that municipalities could not ban them.

    At the time, ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford said in a prepared statement that:
    The court of appeal could not have been clearer in expressing that medical marijuana dispensaries are legal under state law, and that municipalities have no right to ban them. This landmark decision should have a considerable impact on how the California Supreme Court rules in the various dispensary cases it’s currently reviewing.

    There are a staggering 178 cities in California that have completely ignored the needs of patients in their community by adopting bans against medical marijuana dispensaries. However, there are more than 50 municipalities, which have adopted regulatory ordinances that have safely and legally accommodated for the needs of their patients, as well as other members of their communities. An increasing number of studies also show that regulating dispensaries will decrease crime and increase the quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods.

    Patient advocates are not putting all their eggs in the California Supreme Court basket. There is still an effort afoot to pass legislation next year to regulate medical marijuana at the state level. The statewide ballot initiative process is yet another option available to patient advocates and one that will definitely be considered in the months ahead.
  • Medical Cannabis News

    News from around the nation about medical cannabis.
  • The fight for regulations in CA goes on



    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our allies have been fighting for medical cannabis regulations to protect safe access to medicine and patients’ rights since 2002, and we are going to keep fighting that important battle despite a setback today. Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF) has withdrawn AB2312, a bill that would have created a state board to regulate medical cannabis cultivation and provision. That means AB 2312 will not proceed to a vote by the full Senate this year.

    We have come a long way towards passing this bill, and our growing coalition of allies is poised to move forward at the ballot box or in the legislature next year. Polls show that 77% of Californians support regulation and control of medical cannabis, and AB 2312 had some influential support. UFCW National Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division, UFCW  Western States Council, UFCW Local 5, the AFL-CIO, and the California Medical Association all supported the bill.


    Research conducted by ASA and sixteen years of experience show that sensible regulations for medical cannabis preserve community-based access for patients, while reducing crime and complaints around cooperatives and collectives. Although more than fifty localities in California have adopted such regulations, a lack of state leadership has stymied further implementation of the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420) in communities statewide. Uncertainty led to calls from the courts, the California Attorney General, and local lawmakers for leadership and clarity. AB 2312 would have helped answer those calls by securing safe, well-regulated access all over California.

    We made it further this year than anyone thought we would. No one expected this bill to be approved by two committees and the full Assembly. The credit for that goes, in large part, to more than 300 ASA members and allies who visited every legislative office in the Capitol on May 21st, as part of the biggest medical cannabis lobby day in California history. Those citizen advocates were talking with lawmakers and staff just days before crucial votes on AB 2312, and their voices made all the difference.

    Many good bills take more than a year to pass. We can definitely use a few extra months to improve this bill for next year. We need to be sure that taxation, if necessary, is limited; and we have to make it difficult (or impossible) for cities and counties to ban patients’ associations outright. We also have a lot of work to do to build support among legislators and constituents. And given that many people fear statewide regulation, we can use this extra time to keep talking about the benefits and drawbacks of a state model, in hopes of broadening the reform coalition. We must also decide whether the voter initiative process is a sound strategy in California, and if We can we agree on the content and raise the money we need to get on the ballot in 2013 or 2014.

    I want all of you to be a part of that ongoing conversation about what comes next in California. Please sign up for ASA’s announcement lists, participate in our Discussion Forums, and follow our blog.

    I want to say a very special thank you to our allies at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana – United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 5, California NORML, Emerald Growers Association, and the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform. You guys did a great job! I also want to say a special thank you to Assemblymember Tom Amnmiano and his staff for their hard work and patience. And most of all, thank you to the thousands of ASA members and friends who wrote letters, sent emails, signed petitions, visited lawmakers, and donated generously to this effort. That is what it takes to get this work done!
  • DEA’s Leonhart says “We will look at any options for reducing drug addiction,” but what about medical marijuana?



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Administrator Michele Leonhart has created quite a controversy with her comments on medical marijuana made last Wednesday during a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) House oversight hearing. From her bumbling response to Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) on the issue of addiction and comparing medical marijuana to the harmful effects of other Schedule I substances like heroin or methamphetamine, to her commonsense response to Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) on leaving the question of medical marijuana treatment, “between [a patient] and his doctor,” Leonhart illustrated her illogical approach to medical marijuana as a public health issue.

    Notably, toward the end of Rep. Polis’s examination, he asked Leonhart if she was “willing to look at the use of medical marijuana as a way of reducing abuse of prescription drugs,” given that reducing prescription drug abuse is the DEA’s top priority. Leonhart candidly responded:
    We will look at any options for reducing drug addiction.

    Well, Administrator Leonhart, you’re in luck. There is indeed evidence that shows patients using medical marijuana to reduce or eliminate their addictive and often-harmful pharmaceutical drug regimen.

    Just this month, eminent medical marijuana researcher Philippe Lucas, M.A. published an article in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs called, “Cannabis as an Adjunct to or Substitute for Opiates in the Treatment of Chronic Pain.” According to Lucas, “Evidence is growing that cannabis [medical marijuana] can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, presenting a safe and viable alternative or adjunct to pharmaceutical opiates.”

    As if directly addressing Leonhart’s statement to Rep. Polis, and her concern over prioritizing prescription drug addiction, Lucas notes that:
    Addiction to pharmaceutical opiates has been noted by the medical community as one of the common side-effects of extended use by patients (such as those suffering from chronic pain), and a growing body of research suggests that some of the biological actions of cannabis and cannabinoids may be useful in reducing this dependence.

    Lucas further argues that, “[R]esearch on substitution effect suggests that cannabis may be effective in reducing the use and dependence of other substances of abuse such as illicit opiates, stimulants and alcohol.”
    As such, there is reason to believe that a strategy aiming to maximize the therapeutic potential benefits of both cannabis and pharmaceutical cannabinoids by expanding their availability and use could potentially lead to a reduction in the prescription use of opiates, as well as other potentially dangerous pharmaceutical analgesics, licit and illicit substances, and thus a reduction in associated harms.

    Another article on the effects of medical marijuana “substitution” was published in December 2009 by the Harm Reduction Journal. Researcher Amanda Reiman MSW, PhD notes that medical marijuana patients have long been engaging in substitution by using it as an alternative to alcohol, prescription and illicit drugs. In a study Reiman conducted with 350 medical marijuana patients, she found that 40 percent reported using medical marijuana as a substitute for alcohol, twenty-six percent reported using it as a substitute for illicit drugs, and nearly 66 percent use it as a substitute for prescription drugs.
    [S]ixty five percent reported using cannabis as a substitute because it has less adverse side effects than alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, 34% use it as a substitute because it has less withdrawal potential…57.4% use it as a substitute because cannabis provides better symptom management.

    If Leonhart is serious about combating prescription drug abuse, she should heed the conclusions of researchers like Lucas and Reiman and pay attention to the evidence. Answers to two important public health concerns -- medical marijuana and prescription drug abuse -- lie at her feet waiting to be addressed.
  • DEA Chief on Medical Cannabis use by Navy vet: "that's between him and his doctor"

    During today's Drug Enforcement Administration Oversight Hearing, Representative Steve Cohen (D - TN) asked DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart whether or not it would be permissible for a Navy veteran to use medical cannabis to help with severe weight loss. The head of DEA responded by saying, "I think that's between him and his doctor". (begins at 0:50:30)

    Americans for Safe Access absolutely agrees with the candid statement by DEA Administrator Leonhart. Unfortunately, for the Navy veteran that Rep. Cohen brought up, until Leonhart and the Obama Administration stop raiding compliant dispensaries, that veteran may be forced to obtain medical cannabis through unsafe and unreliable means. Worst still for the Navy vet, currently Veterans Administration policy forbids VA doctors from discussing or filling out paperwork associated with state-approved medical cannabis programs. On behalf our ASA's members, I urge DEA Administrator Leonhart, please do not back down from your stated position, in fact taking a stronger stand for safe access has been demonstrated to not the least bit politically dangerous.

    Please contact the DEA (202.307.1000) to thank Administrator Leonhart for to encourage her to follow through with her statement by ending the raids on medical cannabis dispensaries in compliance with state law.

    UPDATE (5:21pm, EDT): Out of curiosity, I poked around to see what Leonhart has said in the past about medical cannabis, and here is what she had to say during her Senate confirmation. No word yet on the "social cost" of thwarting safe access to medical cannabis for American veteran-patients such as the one Rep. Cohen described.
  • Closing Dispensaries Harms Patients: Rally for Safe Access in Sacramento!

    Since last fall, many of California's dispensaries have been forced to close their doors due to the Justice Department's crackdown on medical cannabis. This unfortunate situation worsened last week as we witnessed two dispensaries in California face DEA raids: G3 Holistic in Upland and El Camino Wellness in Sacramento.

    Statewide, patients are concerned over the loss of their dispensaries and are asking loud and clear, "Where will we get our medicine?"

    Imagine a patient who, in their lifetime, has never been exposed to the culture or experiences of cannabis. They’ve never called a friend for an 1/8th or contemplated what clones to plant for a new season. One doctor’s visit can change a life - and now this person is faced with a laundry list of decisions, one of them likely relating to medical cannabis.

    Patient #2 lives in an apartment and for their own laundry list of reasons is not able to cultivate. Either they are not home enough to nurture and protect that endeavor. Or maybe they have a black thumb or the inability to balance pets, children and cultivation.

    Patient #3 has spent two weeks in the hospital, 1 of them in intensive care. Released to go home with severe restrictions, a family member has filled the patient’s prescriptions, gathered groceries and transports the patient back home for recovery. Or maybe even end-of-life care. The caregiver doesn't have the expertise, and the patient doesn't have the time, to wait months to harvest medicine for palliative care.

    Dispensaries provide a logical answer for getting medical cannabis into the hands of those with a valid recommendation.

    Dispensaries give patients the respect of being able to obtain their medicine in a safe, accountable and professional environment rather than endure risky encounters with strangers. Patients are sick and tired and they want to avoid all of the obstacles between them and their medicine. Patients also want to be treated with respect, not like criminals. Many patients have unique needs, and want a variety of choices of cannabis strains and means of delivery.

    Join other patients and concerned citizens coming out in protest over the DEA actions against our state's medical cannabis program.

    Hundreds of dispensaries across the state have closed down while many more face threat of closure. Closing dispensaries hurts patients. The time to stand up for patients' rights is now!

    What: Rally to protest the June 11th DEA raid on El Camino Wellness Center and widespread federal intimidation
    When: Wednesday, June 20th at 1:30pm
    Where: Federal Courthouse, 501 I Street, Sacramento


    Wear sunscreen and a hat, bring water and make signs of protest. Use talking points like:


    DEA Closes Legal Dispensaries
    Closing Collectives Hurts Patients
    Respect CA State Laws


    Courtney Sheats is ASA’s Sacramento Community Liason.