Pages tagged "Maine"


ASA’s DC Conference is underway!

Photo: Jim Tozzi, former OMB and regulatory expert, is the first speaker at the ASA conf @safeaccess #unity14 #mmot #mmjASA’s National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference is underway at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in the heart of Washington, DC. More than two hundred and fifty patients, scientists, industry workers, and other stakeholders will meet for a second day today, before taking their message to the halls of Congress tomorrow afternoon.

The opening speaker yesterday morning acknowledged that the standing-room only crowd might be surprised to see someone like him at a conference like this. Jim Tozzi, PhD., who holds a Doctorate degree in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Florida, is a national expert in the politics and practice of government regulation. Dr. Tozzi is an influential player in Washington, DC. He worked for five consecutive Presidential Administrations, including service as the senior regulatory policy official at the White House Office of Budget and Management; and was appointed to the Administrative Conference of the United States, the administrative agency responsible for overseeing the federal regulatory process.

Dr. Tozzi is also the author of the Data Quality Act, a law that requires government regulation to be based on good science. ASA sued the Department of Health and Human Services using the Data Quality Act in 2004. Although that lawsuit was ultimately unsuccessful, it marked an important milestone in our efforts to influence the administrative agencies in hopes of harmonizing federal policies with the laws of the states that already permit medical cannabis use. It was also the beginning of an important association between Dr. Tozzi and ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. Steph regards this unlikely ally as a mentor, and when a reporter asked Dr. Tozzi in 2004 what he thought of Steph’s work, he replied “She is doing God’s work.”

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Maine Advocacy

ASA relies on the strength of our grassroots activists to fight for medical cannabis at the local and state levels. The best way for new advocates to get involved is by joining or starting a chapter to work on local issues. If there are not any local resources near to you, consider starting your own official ASA Chapter or Action Group!


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.

Lee's HR 6335 Would End the Assault on Landlords in the War on Safe Access

There are many who suffer the "collateral damage" of the war on safe access to medical cannabis. Patients who must suffer or break the law to obtain medicine, as well as their loved ones and providers are some of the more well known victims in this federal assault. However, the overzealous actions of US Attorneys at the Department of Justice (DOJ) have brought to light another group suffering from our utterly nonsensical federal medical cannabis policy - the landlords who lease property to dispensaries.

On Thursday, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced HR 6335 (text), the  the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act. The bill would stop the seizure of property from landlords of state law-compliant medical marijuana businesses, and was introduced less than a month after US Attorney Melinda Haag began forfeiture proceedings against the landlords of Harborside, the well-known dispensary who's Oakland location is in Lee's district.

Facing Peril Unforeseeable Based on Prior Federal Rhetoric

Landlords in states with medical cannabis laws have every reason to believe and expect that when a business presents them with a legitimate business license issued by the state and/or local municipality, that such a business is not breaking any laws merely for existing. In fact, based upon President Obama's instance that he was no longer going after medical cannabis patients and that we no longer have a "war" on drugs, it's perfectly understandable that the average person would not think twice about leasing such a property to medical cannabis dispensary.

Not only do these landlords have every right to expect that these businesses are OK to lease to, the cost to the landlord to get such a property ready to lease to another customer can be quite expensive. Furthermore, in a time when commercial property owners have a hard enough time finding any tenants, these landlords have made business decisions based on the presumed reliable income that dispensary-tenants provide. When you consider that each crime study regarding dispensary neighborhoods indicates that these facilities are assets rather than liabilities to the community, the wisdom of the DOJ forfeitures is questionable at best.

US Attorneys Running Roughshod Over Justice

Speaking of US Attorneys and "questionable" legal thoughts, check out US Attorney Melinda Haag's bizarre and unhinged rational for issuing forfeiture proceedings against Harborside. If sheer size and number of retail sales for things within the Controlled Substances Act was sufficient basis for forfeiture at Harborside, why isn't every CVS, Rite Aide and Walgreens of similar size to Harborside being raided as well. Based on their size, something illegal must be afoot! (Maybe US Attorny Duffy will take up that charge...)

Civil asset forfeiture is a rather extreme government tactic which some have noted treads dangerously close to offending at least four US Constitutional Amendments, the 4th, 5th, 8th, and 14th. It forces property owners to prove their innocence rather than have the government prove guilt. Property owners have no right to an attorney or a jury trial in these proceedings. Many have said civil forfeiture should be done away with all together, but if it is to exist, the government must be judicious in its application.

Lee's HR 6335 Would End this Tactic Against Safe Access

Americans for Safe Access thanks Congresswoman Lee and the cosponsors of HR 6335 for protecting the property rights of land owners who rent to state-approved and law abiding medical cannabis dispensaries. Contact your Representative today and urge them to cosponsor this much-needed safe access legislation.

 

Maine Moves to Protect Private Patient Records

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There has been much concern lately in the medical cannabis community related to the issue of patient privacy.  As Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids occurred in Michigan, Montana, and Washington, federal agents have seized hundreds of patient records.  Most recently, U.S. Magistrate Judge Brenneman, Jr. ruled that the Michigan Department of Community Health must turn over several patient records to the DEA for further investigation of "possible drug crimes," despite that state’s patient privacy law.  The notion that federal investigations should give the government unfettered access to protected patient information is extremely problematic and a violation of federal and state rights to privacy. Despite this overt invasion of privacy, Americans for Safe Access intends to appeal Brenneman’s ruling in order to protect patient privacy in Michigan.

 

Some positive progress is also being made in other states. On June 24, 2011, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed into law LD 1296, which eliminates the requirement of doctors to disclose personal, medical or other identifying information about medical cannabis patients to the state.  This law provides legal protection to medical cannabis patients and keeps their information private.  This law also limits the ability of police to take property from patients, requiring them to return any unlawfully seized property within seven days.  "LD 1296 was a huge success in a Republican era and brought our law back to its initial intent of patient privacy and voluntary registration.   The Maine Civil Liberties Union's presence was incredible," stated Charles Wynott, of Maine's Medical Marijuana Patients Center.

Patient privacy is an important ethical and public health issue of our time, regardless of whether patients benefits from the use of medical cannabis. We must not lose sight of upholding those rights for all patients, but because cannabis is still illegal  under federal law we must especially preserve those rights when medical cannabis patients are involved.  At a time when many states are taking steps backwards with regard to medical cannabis laws, Maine has set a wonderful precedent by stepping forward in spite of federal pressure to do otherwise.