Pages tagged "Federal"

  • Medical Marijuana Week - Day 2: Congress can Protect Patients and Safe Access with HR 1983

    On May 25, 2011, Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced HR 1983, a bill that in many respects would end the federal government's assault on safe access for patients. Known as the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act, the legislation would force the executive branch to stop dragging their feet on reclassifying marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. It would also prevent the federal government from imposing penalties on anyone legitimately participating in a state medical marijuana program. The bill would further prevent the federal government from interfering with state medical marijuana through the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. While this fantastic bill was able to attract 21 cosponsors - several of whom signed a letter to Obama in support of HR 1983 - it has since languished after being referred to committee.

    The seemingly permanent classification of marijuana in Schedule I has got to be one of the most notable examples of the federal government sticking its head in the sand in recent US history. To keep marijuana under Schedule I, the federal government is literally saying that:

    1. Marijuana has a high potential for abuse.

    2. Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

    3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of marijuana under medical supervision.

    Really? Given that 16 states and the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws, with at least another 16 states considering new legislation, it is patently absurd for the federal government to maintain that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” Indeed, countless doctors in these states have recommended marijuana as a treatment to their patients because they are confident in its safety and efficacy. In terms of potential for abuse, not a single medical marijuana patient has died as a result of using marijuana for medical purposes. What’s more is that several apparently safe drugs under Schedule III or lower have caused fatalities in patients, such as hydrocodone, vicodon or benzodiazepines. This situation might be laughable if not for all of the patients who must suffer at the mercy of a federal government which refuses to listen to reason and ever-mounting scientific evidence in favor of medical marijuana

    Congress should be embarrassed by its failure to protect safe access for patients. For Day 2 of Medical Marijuana Week, ASA is asking you to remind your members of Congress about this absurdity, so please take a moment to call Congress and demand your member’s support for HR 1983.  Americans for Safe Access is moving forward with the decade-long court battle with the federal government to marijuana rescheduling, but passage of HR 1983 would mean the government would have to complete the rescheduling process in 12 months. The election year presents a wonderful opportunity to put pressure on members of Congress, so please take time today to call, demand passage of HR 1983, and remind them that your vote is not to be taken for granted.

    ASA Fact Sheet on HR 1983: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/1983FactSheet.pdf

    National Action Alert - Urge Congress to Co-Sponsor HR1983: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/article.php?id=7066

    Medical Marijuana Week: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=7061

     
  • ASA Launches Medical Marijuana Week in Response to 3 Years of Obama's Broken Promises

    UPDATE: Click here for today's detailed action alert.

    When President Obama was elected in 2008, the medical marijuana community was optimistic that the worst days of federal harassment were finally in the past. After all, he had once said, "I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It’s not a good use of our resources." This caused patients and those who provide them with safe access to their medicine to be hopeful that the 200-plus medical
    marijuana dispensary raids under President Bush would be resigned to being a terrible memory, a dark chapter in America’s past never to be repeated. Hopeful, indeed.

    For a brief time, it seemed that Obama’s campaign promises would be followed through upon, with the issuing Holder Memo, which seemed to announce a federal ceasefire in the war on patients. Ultimately, the campaign pledges and Holder Memo turned out to be broken promises, with over 170 SWAT-style raids resulting in at least 61 federal indictments, causing great distress to patients seeking safe access to their medicine. After little more than 3 years in office, Obama is not only on track to surpass two terms worth of Bush raids in just half the time, his Department of Justice has initiated a vicious attack on state sovereignty, designed to destroy the means of safe access patients have come to rely on. Americans for Safe Access is calling on patients, their loved ones, and all concerned citizens to voice their unwillingness to accept Obama’s massive assault against safe access by taking part in Medical Marijuana Week.

    Things would be bad enough if the Obama DOJ had merely doubled Bush’s rate of raids, but instead, US Attorneys have escalated hostilities against safe access to include threats to public officials and landlords. Officials in at least ten states have no doubt experienced a chilling effect on their sovereignty after received threatening letters, such as the City Councils for Chico and Eureka California. This past week, Governor Markell of Delaware announced the suspension of the state's recently passed medical marijuana program. Even the US Attorney for Colorado, John Walsh, once considered relatively amicable towards medical marijuana has sent similar threat letters, boldly proclaiming them as “not a bluff.” Americans for Safe Access has filed a 10th Amendment lawsuit against the DOJ for their coercive tactics that have derailed medical marijuana legislation in several states. In a separate federal legal action, ASA has recently filed a brief in its petition against the arbitrary and capricious refusal by the government to reclassify marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.

    Now is the time to tell the White House that enough is enough. Americans for Safe Access is launching Medical Marijuana Week with an action alert to call the White House and demand that Obama end using federal resources to undermine state laws, and stop putting politics before science by acting immediately to reclassify marijuana as medicine. Remind President Obama about his campaign broken campaign promises, because if patients, their loved ones, and concerned citizens do not tell Obama that his medical marijuana policy must change, it will never improve. After calling the White House today, please continue to join ASA’s Medical Marijuana Week actions, culminating in several local rallies on Thursday February 16, 2012, and keep the pressure on Obama until his policy promotes safe access.

    ASA's Medical Marijuana Week: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article.php?id=7061

    Action Alert to Call the White House: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/article.php?id=7065

     

     

     
  • ASA Files Opening Brief in Rescheduling Case

    Today, ASA filed the opening brief in its effort to have marijuana rescheduled at the federal level.  The brief outlines some of the most egregious analytical errors made by the DEA, which led it to the the outlandish conclusion that that marijuana is even more harmful that methamphetamine and cocaine.  This denial was prompted by ASA's lawsuit to compel the DEA to give some response to a rescheduling petition filed by the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis  in 2002, which went unanswered for nearly eleven years.  The Petition (rightfully) requests that marijuana be rescheduled to Schedule III, IV, or V because it has an accepted medical use in the United States; it is safe for use under medical supervision; it has an abuse potential lower than Schedule I or II drugs; and it has a lower dependence liability than Schedule I or II drugs. Among the DEA's other errors, the agency deviated from its own criteria in assessing the abuse potential of scheduled substances and it flat out ignored more than two hundred scientific studies demonstrating the medical efficacy of marijuana.  Only by closing its eyes to these peer-reviewed studies could the DEA conclude that marijuana lacks a "currently accepted" medical use.
  • California Attorney General Calls Federal Government “Ill-Equipped” to Enforce State’s Medical Marijuana Laws



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    In a series of letters sent by California Attorney General Kamala Harris yesterday, the state’s top law enforcement official railed against the recent federal crackdown on medical marijuana and called on the state legislature to clarify the law.

    Harris sent a letter to the California’s four U.S. Attorneys who in early October announced with great fanfare an intensified campaign targeting the state’s medical marijuana growers and distributors. In her letter, Harris condemned the federal government’s attempt to enforce violations of local and state medical marijuana laws:
    The federal government is ill-equipped to be the sole arbiter of whether an individual or group is acting within the bounds of California’s medical marijuana laws when cultivating marijuana for medical purposes.

    Harris also sent a letter to multiple state legislators, calling on them to clarify California’s medical marijuana laws, especially with regard to the rules on distribution. Citing “unsettled questions of law and policy,” Harris urged action by the legislature:
    Without a substantive change to existing law, these irreconcilable interpretations of the law, and the resulting uncertainty for law enforcement and seriously ill patients, will persist.

    Harris emphasized the “premium” that California law places on “patients’ rights to access marijuana for medical use.” In her letter to State Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and State Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles), Harris cautioned the legislators on abridging the rights of patients:
    In any legislative action that is taken, the voters’ decision to allow physicians to recommend marijuana to treat seriously ill individuals must be respected.

    Lack of clarity in California’s medical marijuana law, however, is not an invitation for the federal government to interfere in its implementation. Harris is right to condemn this federal interference and the harm it causes law-abiding patients. After 15 years, it’s about time that Proposition 215 and its call to “implement a plan for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana” was realized.
  • Attorney General Holder Says One Thing While His U.S. Attorneys Do Another



     

     

     

     

     

    Yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder answered questions before the House Judiciary Committee on his Justice Department’s handling of the now-famous federal ATF operation, “Fast and Furious.” During the hearing, Rep. Polis (D-CO) asked a series of questions on medical marijuana. Holder responded that the October 2009 Ogden memo de-emphasizing marijuana enforcement in medical marijuana states was still in effect. Specifically, Holder said that, “we will not use our limited resources,” to target people who “are acting in conformity with [state] law.” This seems to equate with the Ogden memo and the pledge that President Obama made before and after taking office. There’s only one (big) problem…the Justice Department is currently on a rampage in medical marijuana states, spending tax dollars like there was no fiscal crisis.

    Over the past year, Obama’s Justice Department has spent millions of dollars raiding more than one hundred dispensaries in at least 7 states. Holder’s U.S. Attorneys have also sent threatening letters to public officials in 10 medical marijuana states, attempting to undermine the same laws that Holder purports to respect. In California, U.S. Attorneys are not only using raids to spread fear and intimidation, they are also threatening landlords with criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture if they continue leasing to medical marijuana dispensaries.

    In March, the Obama Administration conducted the largest set of coordinated raids on medical marijuana facilities yet. No less than 8 federal agencies, including the DEA, FBI, EPA, ATF, OSHA, IRS, and ICE, worked with 22 local law enforcement agencies to execute 26 search warrants in 13 cities across Montana. A number of people were later indicted and are now dealing with federal prosecutions. At the time of the raids, the Justice Department complained of state law violations, but cases currently under way indicate the opposite.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Thaggard is trying to prevent several defendants from using a state law defense at their federal trial. To be robbed of a defense is a travesty, but unfortunately all too common in federal medical marijuana cases. Thaggard’s comments in an August court filing, however, underscore the hypocrisy of the Justice Department’s policy on medical marijuana:
    Montana’s medical marijuana laws have no relevance to the present prosecution…

    So, how long will President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and the U.S. Attorneys on a rabid attack against medical marijuana be able to prop up their Orwellian policy of saying one thing and doing another? Only time and a whole lot of pressure will tell.
  • The GOP Presidential Hopefuls on Medical Marijuana

     


    It seems like every time you turn on the TV lately, there's another debate among the GOP Presidential Candidate hopefuls where they end up discussing important issues from foreign policy to the economy to immigration. One issue, however, that appears to have gottten lost in the shuffle is that of medical marijuana. In fact, the only time the subject seems to have been addressed during a debate was the most recent GOP debate on November 22 when Congressman Ron Paul showed his support for medical marijuana, arguing that medical marijuana laws should not be set by the federal government:
    "You can at least let sick people have marijuana because it's helpful. But the compassionate conservatives say, well we can't do this, we're going to put people who are sick and dying with cancer and are being helped with marijuana if they have multiple sclerosis -- the federal government is going in there and overriding state laws and putting people like that in prison."

    However, Congressman Paul has been the only candidate so far to address the topic of medical marijuana during one of the many debates. So the question remains - where do the rest of the candidates stand on the issue?



    Former Governor Gary Johnson strongly supports medical marijuana and has publicly condemned the Department of Justice for its raids on medical marijuana dispensaries and patients. And former Governor Jon Huntsman, Governor Rick Perry, and Herman Cain all believe the issue should be left up to the  states.

    Then there's former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrinch, who as a senator from Georgia in 1981 co-introduced the first bill that would have allowed marijuana to be used for therapeutic purposes. Speaker Gingrich went on record this weekend calling medical marijuana "a joke." Former Governor Mitt Romney comes down on this side of the issue as well, calling marijuana an "entry drug for people trying to get kids hooked on drugs" and has said that medical marijuana is unnecessary since there are "synthetic forms of marijuana that are available for people who need it for prescription." And despite admitting to using marijuana while he was in college, former Senator Rick Santorum opposes medical marijuana as well, saying what he did in college was "wrong" and accusing Governor Perry of being "soft" on marijuana because of his position supporting states' rights.

    At this time, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has not yet publicly taken a position on medical marijuana.

    As we are all well aware, though, positions are subject to change at any time based on poll numbers and public response so stay tuned!

     
  • Washington Raids Indicate Need for State Wide Protection!

    Drug Enforcement Agents executed warrants on fifteen medical cannabis access points across the state of Washington last week.  US Attorney Jenny Durkan alleges that the access points were using the state law to conceal criminal activity and money laundering; however, this is only true so long as medical cannabis is illegal on a federal level.  Because of this there will always be room to charge those participating in civil disobedience with illegal activity.  During an interview, Durkan joked, “There’s always more crime than time.”  This statement is indicative of the Department’s mis-prioritized agenda because they chose to pursue the easiest target: a legal state sanctioned medical cannabis dispensary operating above ground to provide for patients in need.



    Earlier this year, Governor Christine Gregoire vetoed several provisions of a bill that would have legitimized these access points across the state, bowing to the threats of the Federal Government and US Attorneys.  Despite the fact that access continues to be compromised without the operating of legal distribution centers, the Governor and US Attorney claim that patients are being left alone in this battle: “We will not prosecute truly ill people or their doctors who determine that marijuana is an appropriate medical treatment”.  While the state of Washington is not blatantly arresting and prosecuting patients, it is pursuing them in a much more passive manner by cutting off the access these patients desperately need.  It is hypocritical to say that you support the right to access and use of cannabis by certain qualifying people, but then limit the means by which they acquire it.

    Seattle recognized the necessity of cannabis distribution centers, and took the necessary steps to pass a local ordinance providing a regulatory scheme for dispensaries to exist in the locality.  If Washington is truly committed to ensuring that safe and legal access is available to all patients in need, the more localities must follow in Seattle’s footsteps.  Passing such ordinances is a necessary response to the most recent raids we have seen across the state.  Click here to view our Washington Raid Response page to find out how you can take action!  
  • Federal Attacks on Safe Access Continue



     

    On November 1, federal agents raided G3 Holistic, Inc.'s three locations in Colton, Upland, and Moreno Valley, CA as well as the Ontario warehouse where the medical cannabis was grown. That same day, the homes of G3's president, Aaron Sandusky, and its chief financial officer, John Nuckolls, were also raided on the claim that Sandusky has been illegally selling cannabis to the general public.

    Sandusky said officials confiscated up to $30,000 from his stores and detained him for more than seven hours in handcuffs at the warehouse, where they took all of the equipment and destroyed his plants. G3 reportedly serves more than 17,000 patients in Colton and Upland combined.

    These raids came only a day before Sandusky was due in court to continue his fight to keep his dispensaries open. In June of this year he filed a stay against the city of Upland's August 2010 injunction against G3 and is appealing the city's prohibitions of medical cannabis dispensaries. A stay was granted on June 20, allowing the cooperative to operate until Sandusky's appeal was heard on November 2. The appeal was held as scheduled and the 4th District Court of Appeals has 90 days from that date to hand down their decision.

    The city of Moreno Valley is also coming down hard on G3, utilizing a three year old ordinance that bans collectives and issuing $1,000 daily fines for running a business without a valid license or required certificate of occupancy. Additionally, the city attorney’s office has two pending misdemeanor criminal complaints related to code violations. The trial for these charges is set to begin November 14.
  • We're Making a Difference… Help ASA Keep the Momentum!



    Last week, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed a lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration's attempt to subvert local and state medical cannabis laws. Our lawsuit argues that the Tenth Amendment forbids the federal government from using coercive tactics to commandeer the law-making functions of the states. The public and media response has been impressive. We have received hundreds of messages of support, new members have joined ASA, and the national media coverage has been positive. Thank you to everyone who already spoke up and helped out!

    But we can’t stop there! ASA still needs your support to keep the momentum going in the right direction. Can you make a one-time or recurring donation to help us keep pushing back?


    Earlier this year, ASA filed another lawsuit in federal court challenging the unreasonable delay in the federal response to the nine-year old cannabis rescheduling petition. Rescheduling cannabis under federal law is an important step towards making it legally available for research and therapeutic use. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) promptly responded by denying the petition. ASA already filed a notice of appeal in this case, and will file the appeal brief challenging the DEA’s rescheduling decision very soon. Our appeal could lead to the first evidentiary hearings on the medical value of cannabis in federal court since 1994.

    We are also working to put direct political pressure on the Obama Administration. Federal and state lawmakers are already responding to ASA’s call for opposition to the federal crackdown and a change in federal law. US Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) spoke up early in the crackdown, and more recently, seven other Members of Congress joined them in signing an ASA-inspired letter to President Obama calling for rescheduling. In California, Senators Mark Leno (D-SF) and Leland Yee (D-SF), Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-SF), California Attorney General Kamala Harris, and several local elected officials have already spoken publicly in opposition to the crackdown. You can expect to see even more support like this, as ASA mobilizes our national grassroots base to visit state and federal representatives in their district offices nationwide.

    We need your help to keep up this campaign. Can you make a special contribution to help right now? You can make your support more affordable by making smaller monthly contributions!

    We can fight back against federal attacks on safe access. With your help, we can fight in federal court, galvanize support among state and federal representatives, and be sure the national media is telling the patients’ side of the story. Thank you to everyone who has joined ASA and contributed already. If you have not, now is the time.

    Be sure to read more about ASA’s rescheduling letter signed by nine Members of Congress and elected officials opposing the federal crackdown on ASA’s blog. And check out some of the great media coverage… here, here, and here.
  • California State, Local Elected Officials Blast Federal Attacks on Medical Marijuana



     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Earlier this month, in response to federal attacks by California’s U.S. Attorneys, several local and state officials spoke out against the aggressive interference in their medical marijuana laws. State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) held a press conference with patients and advocacy groups, including Americans for Safe Access. The message was clear: the federal government must “stand down.”

    On October 19th, Senator Leno stated the following:
    I urge the federal government to stand down in its massive attack on medical marijuana dispensaries, which will have devastating impacts for the state of California. At a time when resources are precious and few, federal officials have chosen to waste time and money in an ambush that will harm countless patients who will no longer be able to safely access doctor-prescribed treatments. Our federal dollars, especially during a down economy, would be better spent on activities and programs that save jobs and help people in need. Instead, this ill-timed offensive would have no positive impacts on our state and would only force more Californians into unemployment.

    Assembly member Ammiano also declared that:
    Instead of supporting state efforts to effectively regulate medical marijuana in accordance with Prop 215, the Obama administration seems committed to re-criminalizing it. This destructive attack on medical marijuana patients is a waste of limited law enforcement resources and will cost the state millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives. I urge President Obama to reconsider this bad policy decision and respect California's right to provide medicine to its residents.

    In a separate statement, State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) also blasted the decision to shut down licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in the city:
    Medical marijuana dispensaries are helping our economy, creating jobs, and most importantly, providing a necessary service for suffering patients. There are real issues and real problems that the US Attorney’s Office should be focused on rather than using their limited resources to prosecute legitimate businesses or newspapers. Like S-Comm, our law enforcement agencies – both state and local – should not assist in this unnecessary action. Shutting down state-authorized dispensaries will cost California billions of dollars and unfairly harm thousands of lives.

    Most recently, California Attorney General Kamala Harris spoke out against the recent federal crackdown:
    Californians overwhelmingly support the compassionate use of medical marijuana for the ill. … While there are definite ambiguities in state law that must be resolved either by the state legislature or the courts, an overly broad federal enforcement campaign will make it more difficult for legitimate patients to access physician-recommended medicine in California. I urge the federal authorities in the state to adhere to the United States Department of Justice’s stated policy and focus their enforcement efforts on ‘significant traffickers of illegal drugs.

    Even local officials are speaking up. Mendocino County Supervisor John McCowen called the federal raid on a medical marijuana collective licensed by the county, “outrageous.” Supervisor McCowen said in a written statement, “if the federal government truly wants to protect public safety,” it should change its strategy of:
    [R]aiding medical marijuana growers who are doing everything they can to operate in full compliance with state and local law.

    Perhaps the feds should take heed, lest more officials from across the state speak up in defense of patients and state law.