Pages tagged "Dispensaries"

  • LA at a Crossroads

    The Los Angeles City Council will choose between two competing motions concerning medical cannabis in the near future, and the outcome will have long-term implications for legal patients in the city. One path leads to an outright ban on patients’ cooperatives and collectives; while the other may settle dozens of lawsuits, complies with existing case law, and fulfils the voters’ will for a safe and regulated access program. It should be an easy choice. But everything about medical cannabis is controversial in the state’s largest city, and what happens here could have repercussions around the state and nation. That is why Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and a growing coalition of advocates, organized labor, and other stakeholders are gearing up for what may be the last battle for safe access at City Hall.



    ASA has been working with the city since 2005 to stop a ban on legal cooperatives and collectives and adopt workable regulations. This is an important, because research conducted by ASA and the experience of the last sixteen years show that sensible regulations reduce crime and complaints, while preserving access for patients. That is what voters want. A poll conducted by EMC Research last November demonstrated that seventy-seven percent of voters favor the regulation and control of medical cannabis.

    City Council Members Jose Huizar and Mitchell Englander made a motion to ban all medical cannabis patients’ cooperatives and collectives in the city – even those that have tried in good faith to comply with the city’s troubled regulatory scheme. Council Members Huizar and Englander call their motion the “gentle ban,” because it would “allow” legal patients to grow their own medicine at home. That right is already guaranteed under the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) and further protected by the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420). The term “gentle ban” is a face-saving euphemism. The Huizar-Englander motion would create an ordinance that bans all patients’ associations, but gives no other option to the large majority of patients who do not or cannot grow their own medicine.

    There is an alternative. Council Member Paul Koretz and Council President Herb Wesson have introduced a competing measure that would allow for approximately one hundred patients’ cooperatives and collectives distributed throughout the city. Their motion complies with a recent Appellate Court decision, Pack v. City of Long Beach, which if upheld by the California Supreme Court, will prevent cities from authorizing conduct prohibited under federal law (like providing medical cannabis). This “limited immunity” approach may also help settle dozens of lawsuit brought by the City of Los Angeles and patients’ associations. Better still, the Koretz-Wesson motion would create an ordinance that finally regulates medical cannabis provision in the city – something most Angelinos still want to see.

    Which option the City Council chooses may depend on what patients and advocates do right now. The City Council could consider one or both of the motions at any time. Public outcry has prevented medical cannabis opponents on the City Council and at the City Attorney’s office from fast-tracking the so-called “gentle ban” and derailing the “limited immunity” option so far. The growing coalition of medical cannabis allies now includes the influential UFCW Local 770, which represents workers at more than twenty Los Angeles patients’ associations. UFCW Local 770 hosted a press conference on the issue at City Hall last week, and their action alert for City Council Members is helping keep pressure on City Hall. The voice of organized labor is just one of many to join a growing coalition committed to defeating the “gentle ban” or overturning it with a voter referendum.

    This is a fight Angelinos have to fight, but everyone should be paying attention. If medical cannabis opponents succeed in banning patients’ cooperatives and collectives here, it will be a green light for other jurisdictions. We need to stop the momentum for bans in Los Angeles, before it reaches a critical mass. The City of Los Angeles is a trend setter, for better of for worse. Patients and advocates nationwide will suffer if the story of Los Angeles is one of confusion, delay, litigation, and finally a ban. The Koretz-Wesson motion is a chance to take back the momentum and get this influential city back on track. But it will not happen if those of us in the city do not dig in our heels and fight before the choice is made.

    What can you do? Use the UFCW Local 770’s online action alert to send a message to City Hall right now. Then plan to join the Los Angeles Chapter of ASA on Saturday to plan the next steps. The LA-ASA meeting is at 1:00 PM on Saturday, June 16, in the Community Room (#152) at the West Hollywood Gateway Mall located at 7100 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, CA 90046.
  • D.C. Health Dept Approves 4 Dispensaries

    After a long application and review process, the D.C. Department of Health announced today that four medical cannabis dispensaries have been approved and may now apply for business licenses and other regulatory requirements for opening. This announcement, which came a week or two earlier than expected, is welcome news to the District's patient population, as it has been two years since the D.C Council approved the local medical cannabis bill, B18-622, in May, 2012.

    Faith in the Public Safety of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

    At times during the application review process, some local community members raised concerns about the public safety of dispensaries coming to their community. The efforts of dispensary applicants, along with support from groups like Safe Access DC and a growing number of residents, demonstrated to community leaders and District officials that medical cannabis dispensaries are hardly a threat to public safety. ASA published a white paper which it distributed to community leaders and public officials. Moreover, yet another study suggests that medical cannabis dispensaries are not associated with increasing crime or violence, and may have a crime-reducing effect. 

    Safe Access is on the Horizon in D.C.

    Although D.C. voters first approved medical cannabis in 1998 - implementation of which was barred by Congress until 2009 - it will still be still be several months until D.C.'s licensed cultivation sites will be able to provide medicine to the approved dispensaries. Some are saying as early as August, although B18-622 co-sponsor David Cantania has estimated safe access to begin closer to year's end. If you'd like to join the effort to create safe access to medical cannabis in the District, including urging the Department of Health to create a process to verify patient status, check out SafeAccessDC.org.
  • Medical Marijuana Reading - June 11th 2012

    Catch up on the latest news about medical marijuana throughout the county.
    • Feds Attack California’s Medical Marijuana Trade - Again (Reuters)
    • Mass. Medical Marijuana Opponents Mobilize Efforts (Bloomberg)
    • Report: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Not Linked to Neighborhood Crime (US News and World Report)
    • Cedars-Sinai Again Denies Transplant to Medical Marijuana Patient (Opposing Views)
    • DEA Raids Sacramento Pot Shop (SacBee)
    • New blog by Hearst Media - Smell the Truth.
  • Labor stands up for safe access in LA

    Organized labor spoke up on behalf of medical cannabis patients and workers in Los Angeles today. One hundred medical cannabis patients, workers, and advocates gathered on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall for a press conference hosted by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770, which represents workers at more than twenty of the most reputable patients’ cooperatives and collectives in the city. UFCW Local 770 called the press conference to oppose a motion by City Council Members Jose Huizar and Mitchell Englander calling for an outright ban on patients’ associations. The motion will be before the Public Safety Committee tomorrow, and may be before the full City Council within days.



    The Huizar-Englander motion is known by the euphemism “the gentle ban,” because the Author and the City Attorney claim the ordinance created by this motion would “allow” patients to grow their own medicine at home, but ban all other access in the city. But the right of patients and primary caregivers to grow medicine is already guaranteed under the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420). The “gentle ban” takes away real access for most patients, but gives nothing in return. “There is nothing gentle about the gentle ban,” said UFCW Local 770 Director of Organizing Rigo Valdez.

    The City Council has another option. A competing motion by Council Member Paul Koretz and Council President Herb Wesson would allow for a limited number of patients cooperatives and collectives in the city, provided they comply with as yet undetermined provisions. That motion is designed to settle numerous lawsuits and comply with the Appellate Court decision in Pack v. Long Beach, which if upheld, may bar the city from some kinds of regulation. Unfortunately, the Koretz-Wesson “limited immunity” motion is being ignored by committee members and city staff.

    The voice of organized labor is a welcome addition to the long and controversial debate about medical cannabis in Los Angeles. UFCW Local 770 is using its influence and experience to help to push the City Council away from the cynical “gentle ban” and towards an option that will preserve real access to medicine and good union jobs in Los Angeles. Patients and workers in Los Angeles hope lawmakers heard the voice of labor today, and will listen tomorrow at the Public Safety Committee hearing.
  • CA Assembly Approves Landmark Medical Cannabis Bill

    [caption id="attachment_2715" align="alignleft" width="158" caption="Tom Ammiano"]
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    The California Assembly just approved AB 2312, a bill by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF) that will create a statewide board to regulate medical cannabis. The Senate will take up the bill next. Advocates are thrilled, and vow to build on this momentum to make sure the bill is also approved in the Senate and signed by Governor Brown. The campaign to adopt AB 2312 has already seen a dramatic expansion in the coalition for medical cannabis, including the influential United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and the largest medical cannabis citizen lobby day in state history.

    Assemblymember Ammiano introduced AB 2312 in response to growing calls for statewide clarity from elected officials and the courts. The public wants legislation like this, too. A poll conducted by EMC research shows that 77% of Californians support the regulation, control, and taxation of cannabis. The nine-member appointed board created by the bill will be charged with developing, implementing, and enforcing statewide regulations – something that is already underway in other states where medical cannabis is legal. The Author and advocates anticipate that greater consistency will help to address ambivalence about the state’s medical cannabis program and prevent local officials from blocking implementation or calling for federal intervention.

    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and coalition members are proud of the growing support and increased grassroots participation in the campaign for AB 2312. We call on everyone who supported this important bill to keep working to make needed improvements and get the bill passed by the Senate. And we call on those who are undecided or oppose (including misinformed lawmakers) to take another look.

    Thank you to the thousands of you who called, emailed, and wrote in support of AB 2312. And thank you to the hundreds of you who participated in our Citizen Lobby Day on May 21. We would not have made it this far without you. I also want to say a special that you to our partners at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana, Assemblymember Amminao, and his staff, who all worked tirelessly to pass this bill.

    Don Duncan is ASA's California Director.
  • CA Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Cannabis Collectives

    In a major victory for patients and medical cannabis cooperatives, today the California Supreme Court rejected calls from the California Attorney General and law enforcement to review the Appeals Court ruling in People v. Colvin (PDF). At issue in this case was Attorney General Kamala Harris’s interpretation of the Medical Marijuana Program Act to require an undefined percentage of the membership of a medical marijuana collective to actively participate in some way in the operation of the collective. The court’s ruling today means that medical cannabis collectives in California may operate like any other collective, such as REI or Costco, in which a member of the collective participates solely through purchasing products distributed by the collective.

    At ASA, we were of course very concerned with the Attorney General’s argument that patients had to participate actively in the operations of a medicinal cannabis collective, because many patients are not physically able to do so (among other objections). Harris’s interpretation of the law was invented from whole cloth, and the Second Appellate district recognized it as such. That Court of Appeal in its ruling that was upheld today, stated that the Medical Marijuana Program Act imposes no such restriction on medical marijuana collectives.

    The California Supreme Court’s rejection of efforts by the CA Attorney General and law enforcement to review the Colvin case effectively puts an end to this issue and makes clear that medical marijuana collectives should be treated the same as others under the law. This is a big victory for patients and our movement.

    Joe Elford is the Chief Counsel for Americans for Safe Access.
  • Sonoma Advocates Host Election Forum

    Note from Steph - This is an awesome way to inform your community while educating candidates and your future elected representatives. Kudos to Kumari and Sarah Shrader for arranging this forum!
    [caption id="attachment_2646" align="alignleft" width="267" caption="Sonoma County"]
    [/caption]Candidates for the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will voice their views on medical marijuana in a public forum to be held tomorrow, Wednesday May 23rd, at the Sonoma County Central Library located at 3rd and E Streets in Santa Rosa. The Forum is hosted by the Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana (SAMM) and the Sonoma County Chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), and will be facilitated by Santa Rosa attorney, Joe Rogoway. The event begins at 5pm and goes until 7:30pm.

    The forum presents an opportunity to hear candidates’ positions on a number of relevant, local, medical cannabis issues. A question and answer period will follow the candidates’ statements. Admission is free and the public is invited. Wheelchair accessible. Refreshments provided.

    This is an exciting and important election because 3 of the 5 seats on the Board are open. There are 11 candidates vying for these 3 seats. The Primary Election on June 5th will determine the top 2 candidates for each seat, and those candidates will face off in the November 6th final election. Whoever wins those 3 seats in November will determine the future of medical cannabis in our county.

    In the 1st district, there are 6 candidates contending for Valerie Brown's seat. In the 3rd district there are 2 candidates including incumbent Shirlee Zane. The 5th district has 3 candidates including incumbent Efren Carillo. Candidates have been asked to complete a survey in advance; their responses will be made available to attendees and all inquiring parties.

    The Board is a key decision maker for local medical cannabis policies. It determines guidelines for possession and cultivation; sets dispensary regulations; and approves dispensary permits, consistent with state laws, Prop. 215 and SB420. Members of the Board also approve the budgets for the Sonoma County Sheriff and District Attorney offices.

    SAMM was formed in 1996 after California voters passed into law Proposition 215, the "Compassionate Use Act of l996" which allows Californians to use marijuana as medicine. Sonoma County voters supported the initiative by more than 70%. ASA is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists, and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. Sonoma chapter of ASA has been active for almost 10 years, and holds monthly meetings that are open to the public.

    Through the years, SAMM and ASA have worked with the Sheriff's Office, District Attorney, Department of Health, City Councils, County Board of Supervisors, Sonoma County Medical Association, and the Narcotics Task Force. They have worked together to establish policies and ordinances for medical marijuana patients, caregivers, small cooperatives, and medical cannabis dispensing collectives. Both are non-profit, volunteer, educational organizations. Neither distributes cannabis. More information about SAMM can be found at www.samm.net.
  • San Francisco: Why I'm Attending the CA Unity Conference

    Note from Steph: The conference agenda has been posted online. I can't wait to see you in Sacramento!

    Why am I attending the California Unity Conference? Because the federal government continues to undermine state and local medical marijuana laws - resulting in the closure of some of San Francisco’s oldest and best-regulated dispensing collectives, and scaring patients who fear reprisal from law enforcement just for using their medicine. We are being put to the ultimate test to see whether or not our community has the strength and adversity to protect and defend safe access. Right now, support from our elected representatives is jeopardized because of misinformation being spread by our opponents. We must stop these attacks on medical cannabis and take back the momentum for patients.

    How do we stop this? By informing legislators of the facts. The truth is that regulated dispensaries benefit communities by providing access for the most seriously ill and injured, and reduce crime in the vicinity when well-regulated. The use of medical marijuana under the care and supervision of a licensed medical professional consistently carries 80% support in nation-wide polling, but only small minority have actually taken action. Our opponents are a well-funded, very vocal minority. So we need our majority of supporters to be very vocal! That means all of you!

    Are you ready for this fight? I am. Join hundreds of medical cannabis patients and advocates for the California Unity Conference in Sacramento May 19-21, to shape the state’s medical cannabis laws during this legislative cycle and beyond, and learn how to create successful pro-patient actions in your community.

    Why do we fight? Because all patients deserve safe access to medicine. No matter where you live in California, or in the USA, ASA works tirelessly to implement common-sense regulations that will allow safe access for patients. Discrimination of medical cannabis patients must stop now: they deserve same rights as any other patient. So let’s tell our state reps to stop spreading lies and playing politics with patients’ lives.

    I've watched other causes succeed with less support. I know we can win this; but it will take a large number of people. We've already seen what we can accomplish with our SF United Campaign. On April 3rd, we rallied over 600 people on the steps of San Francisco City Hall to save safe access. We managed to get a statement from the mayor, we helped the San Francisco Democratic Party adopt a resolution, and we confronted and got a statement from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) condemning the escalated attacks on state-compliant medical marijuana businesses. Now envision thousands of medical cannabis supporters descending on the State Capitol. Can you imagine the impact that will have?

    Be a part of winning this fight - join us this weekend!

    Tony Bowles is a Core Member of the San Francisco Chapter of ASA. He was a plaintiff in ASA’s successful lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol.
  • Congress takes historic vote against federal raids

    Wednesday night, the House voted on the Rohrabacher-Hinchey-McClintock-Farr amendment, to end the federal crackdown on state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. While the amendment failed, it received more votes than a similar bill in 2007 (when Democrats controlled the House). Thank you so much for reaching out to your representatives to support safe access. In less than a week, we generated thousands of phone calls, emails, and tweets urging Congress to adopt the bill. We came close because your voices were heard loud and clear. Make no mistake about it - this vote was a great victory for our movement. 73% of Democrats voted to end President Obama’s policy of cracking down on state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries. 12% of Republicans voted for this bipartisan amendment to the Justice appropriations bill, a significant increase from 2007 - even as pundits say the House has grown more conservative. Your voice counted for so much in the run up to the vote - and it will continue to make a difference. Please take a minute to let your Congressional Representative know how you feel about their vote, yea or nay, using our Online Action Center. Watch your Congressman speak safe access It was an amazing debate. A bipartisan, coast-to-coast group of nine representatives spoke strongly in favor of the amendment, and only one, Frank Wolf (R-VA), spoke against it. You are probably not as much of a C-SPAN junkie as I am, but I want to share with you five great speeches which show what this amendment was all about: protecting safe access to medical cannabis for vulnerable patients. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-CA, spoke of his experience as an Assistant US Attorney, and how scarce resources force federal law enforcement to choose between prosecuting medical cannabis dispensaries or large-scale international drug traffickers. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-CA, spoke for states’ rights and the needs of patients. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-CA, spoke about the crackdowns in her district, including the recent closing of Berkeley Patients Group. Co-sponsor Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) quoted ASA, saying that there have been 170 raids, and praising the therapeutic value of cannabis. And co-sponsor Sam Farr (D-CA), points out that the Republican-controlled House favors states' rights on all issues - except compassionate use. Thanks again for your support, and you can look forward to more state and federal legislation for safe access in the coming months. Don't forget to thank your Representative!
  • Why we fight for medical cannabis - and how Congress can help us win



    One month ago I traveled to California for an event in San Francisco. The morning before the event, I awoke to the news that the Drug Enforcement Administration was raiding Blue Sky, a dispensary in Oakland. It was heartening to see an outpouring of support for medical marijuana patients, but the dispensary was closed down and medicine was seized. The next day I visited a dear friend who is suffering from late-stage cancer, who is too ill to medicate even with a vaporizer. Though in great pain, my friend did not want to use morphine and lose her ability to communicate with the friends and family whom she loves very much.



    Thanks to California’s compassionate use law, I was quickly able to meet her caregiver at a dispensary in San Francisco where he safely purchased cannabis edibles recommended by her doctor. Within an hour of taking a medical cannabis lozenge, my friend who hadn’t eaten in three days, sat up and ate like a horse. This sight reminded me why we all fight so hard for safe access. What would I have done if this were my grandmother in Texas, which does not permit compassionate use? How could I have quickly found edibles if the DEA had closed every dispensary in the Bay Area?

    When the federal government tries to stop access to medicine, they are trying to undo tens of thousands of hours work that advocates and local governments have put in to creating regulations for safe access to cannabis. The DEA wants to deny patients medicine that can dramatically improve their lives, or reduce their suffering. Without safe access to cannabis, patients and caregivers have to resort to the inconsistency of the illicit market.

    That is why Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher, Maurice Hinchey and Sam Farr will introduce a bipartisan amendment to deny funding to DEA raids against dispensaries operating in accordance with state law. This amendment to an Appropriations bill would not legalize marijuana, but would preserve state’s rights to allow compassionate use, and support local government decision-making.

    If you do one thing for safe access to medical marijuana this year, make it a phone call to your Representative in support of this important amendment by using our Online Action Center.

    My friend is still alive. Marijuana will not reverse the course of her illness, but thanks to high-quality cannabis products, she is alert enough to talk to her friends and family for what may be the last time. Having those precious moments with a dear friend is why I work so hard for all patients. Please join me in asking your Representative to vote Yes on the Rohrabacher-Hinchey-Farr Amendment, to preserve safe access for our friends and loved ones.