Pages tagged "Medical Cannabis"

  • Support HR 6335 to protect patients' access

     

    [caption id="attachment_2990" align="alignleft" width="150"]
    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.
  • Welcome to Cannabis Activist Summer Camp!

    Howdy-Ho (potential) Campers! A bunch of us here at ASA are just so riled-up over this crazy federal crackdown on safe access, so we decided to start an online activist summer camp called Camp WakeUpObama to give all you medical cannabis advocates out there a fun and easy way to have your voices heard. Signing up for camp is free and easy, just go to www.CampWakeUpObama.com! As your Camp Counselor, I’ve been working really hard to get the camp ready for you. We’ve been coming up with great activities like holding an ASA house party, contacting your elected officials, or even making some fun protest art! The best part is, you can earn cool Facebook badges for your profile, free ASA gear, or even a free trip to ASA’s 1st Annual National Conference in DC this February. All this, and you get the satisfaction of helping make President Obama aware that medical cannabis is an urgent issue that needs to be dealt immediately. As the Camp WakeUpObama Counselor (and ASA’s new National Field Coordinator), I encourage you all to sign up for camp and help us really send a message to the President this summer that medical cannabis is an issue that cannot be ignored! Looking forward to seeing all of you at Camp WakeUpObama this summer! “Camp Counselor” Hunter Holliman Hunter Holliman is the National Field Director of Americans for Safe Access.
  • Wake Up Obama: Cannabis Patients Vote!

    This is a photo of me at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. I had just heard one of the most politically motivating speeches of my life from a candidate for president. I was moved to tears, joyous, and inspired. This candidate not only filled me with hope about the future of our nation, but said he would not interfere with access to legal medical cannabis.

    I was ecstatic to be shedding the dark days of the Bush Administration's war on medical cannabis patients. As a patient myself, I felt counted and part of the Change that would be coming to Washington, and I was proud to support and volunteer for Barack Obama's victorious campaign.

    For his 2008 campaign, I donated money, I went to rallies to show support, I knocked on doors in VA,  and on election night I joined thousands in D.C. who descended on the White House to celebrate and sing "Na, Na, Na, Na, Good bye" to President Bush. I went to sleep that night excited about a new direction for this country that would include me as a recognized medical cannabis patient.

    From the beginning, the new administration made supportive statements about medical cannabis, including that the President was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws." On October 19, 2009, we got the policy document we had been waiting for. Then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden issued a memorandum, now know as the "Ogden Memo," instructing U.S. attorneys to limit marijuana enforcement to those operating out of compliance with state law.

    With this legal guidance, the medical cannabis movement went to work to pass new state laws protecting patients and those who provided their medication. Advocates, community members, and officials spent thousands of hours drafting legislation and regulations in at least eleven states. But when legislators and other state and local officials came close to passing or implementing these laws, they received letters from U.S. attorneys, threatening federal arrest and prosecution.

    Dismayed by this apparent reversal in the Obama Administration's policy, patients demanded the President rein in the US Attorneys. Instead we got the "Cole Memo," issued by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, laying out a new interpretation of the Obama Administration's policy. The memo gave the Justice Department free rein in medical cannabis states, to undermine state laws and coerce local lawmakers. The Cole Memo launched an unprecedented attack on the medical cannabis community unprecedented in its scope.

    In fewer then fours years of President Obama, we have seen more raids on dispensaries than during the Bush Administration's entire eight-year tenure. The Obama Administration has taken property from landlords, threatened local officials, forced the release of patient records, used the Internal Revenue Service to bankrupt legitimate dispensaries, told banks to purge medical cannabis clients, evicted patients from low-income housing, and denied a petition to recognize the well-established medical value of cannabis.

    Now as President Obama approaches the vote on his reelection, I and other medical cannabis patients are finding it impossible to renew our support. How can I vote for someone who has broken his promise? How can I vote for someone who can't see very real public health needs? How can I vote for someone who wages war on my fellow patients and me?

    There are more than one million legal medical cannabis patients across the country and millions more waiting to become legal. We have friends and family in every state, and there are many of us in states that are key to the Obama reelection campaign: Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico.

    I care a lot about this country and my fellow Americans, and I have always volunteered for candidates during election years. Now, instead of going to rallies or buying tickets to fundraisers, I will be protesting at campaign stops like the one today in downtown Oakland. Instead of working to elect a president, I'll be joining thousands of medical cannabis advocates at Camp Wakeupobama, a virtual summer camp during which we will press our case to the President.

    President Obama, you can move medical cannabis policy forward and win this election - 74% of voters disagree with your attacks on state compassionate use laws.

    Medical cannabis patients will be on the campaign trail, however you can still determine what our signs will say.
  • 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
  • Medical Cannabis News Roundup

    News about medical cannabis from around the nation - or, everything you missed if you were reading about the unjust federal action targeting Harborside Health Center.
    • Government-sponsored study destroys DEA’s classification of marijuana - The Raw Story
    • Visa and Mastercard Reject Medical Marijuana Purchases - Vibe
    • Oregon Kills Medical Marijuana deduction for food stamp applicants - The Oregonian
    • Does Medical Marijuana Increase Teen Pot Use? - Wall Street Journal
    • CO federal dispensary crackdown widens scope with subjectivities - Examiner.com
    • California pot research backs therapeutic claims - Sacramento Bee
    • Backers of Arkansas medical marijuana legalization need more signatures - The Republic
    • Owner Of First U.S. Marijuana Pharmacy Now Broke And Fighting IRS - Forbes
     
  • 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.
  • Activist Journalist arrested in Oaksterdam raid to be arraigned

    On April 2, 2012 Jose Alacran Gutierrez was among the throng of protesters and journalists that captured the federal raid on Richard Lee’s Oaksterdam University and Coffee Shop Blue Sky. A veteran Bay Area beat reporter for Pacifica Radio - KPFA’s La Onda Bajita and the nationally syndicated Flashpoints shows, as well as a longtime medical cannabis activist, Mr. Gutierrez was caught up in the raid as it unfolded outside Coffee Shop Blue Sky and brutally arrested by federal agent. He was charges with one federal felony count of forcible assault on a federal officer. He could be facing up to 8 years in prison.

    Over the last decade, hundreds of raids have been conducted where local law enforcement has been used for crowd control, which makes the use of Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and The United States Marshals in the April 2nd raid, an unusual show of force on the part of the federal government.

    Suspicious Arrest

    In addition to their aggressive crowd control tactics, the federal agents busted a window of the premises scattering glass and pushing the activists away from the main door. From the Live Stream there is clear audio and video of activists and spectators identifying which officers started the altercations. The jostling of cameras, phones, and equipment can be heard and seen as federal agents’ renter Coffee Shop Blue Sky. In a matter of seconds, Mr. Gutierrez is being accosted and held down on the ground by at least five federal agents. A shameless expression of pride and shock on his face, as he is lead to the patrol car that activists have blocked with their bodies. Others banged on the car windows after they shove him in, chanting and screaming, “Let him go! Let him go!!!”

    This went on relentlessly as federal agents escorted the unmarked car down the street. Oaklanders watched and recorded the incident in appalling disbelief at the overwhelming act of aggression by the federal agents. The Oscar Grant Case, which originated in Oakland, taught its residents to pull out their cameras when witnessing police aggression. Since there were many witnesses (with recording capability ) to Mr. Gutierrez’s incident most of them have video or still footage leading his defense team to ask the public to post on YouTube in order for the whole truth to be told and the charges dropped. From this footage, it is obvious to the viewer that Mr. Gutierrez suffered injuries that sent him to the hospital due to the five or so agents rushing to subdue his alleged assault.

    Out of the three arrests made that day, only Jose Gutierrez was taken into Federal custody. Two activists that were arrested by Oakland Police during the Oaksterdam Raid were released and the Alameda County District Attorney’s office filed no charges.

    Blurred Lines of Activism versus Journalism

    For over twenty years, Jose Alacran Gutierrez has been a leftist leaning political radio correspondent giving a voice to the Chicano and cannabis communities. In regards to sensitive controversial issues like the legalization of medical cannabis, Pacifica Radio reporters and programmers are given an opportunity like no other in journalism, to actively participate in the causes, organizations, and struggles of the communities they represent. These stories usually fall outside the corporate media model. By following the stories from the Humboldt Hills to East Oakland where houses and beyond staying on the beat of the cannabis legalization movement, Jose Alacran Gutierrez has been a catalyst for the dissemination of vital information to these communities.

    We must remember, throughout history oppressive governments have used beatings and arrests to suppress the will of the people. Ghandi was beaten and arrested. Malcolm X was beaten and arrested. Martin Luther King was beaten and arrested. More people are going to be beaten and arrested, but how many more will be marginalized? When members of the Department of Justice are taking these extreme actions, like aggressively subduing journalists, closing educational facilities like Oaksterdam, and raiding permitted dispensaries, someone has to ask, when will enough be enough? These are important questions that need to be answered not only by the people that have the power to conduct these raids and stop them, but also by those of us who have the power to speak out against blatant injustices that are happening on a regular basis in the medicinal cannabis community and beyond.

    Show support in federal court

    Jose will be back in Federal Court on July 13th, 2012 at 9:30am, 1301 Clay Street in Oakland, 3rd Floor, Room 4. His case will be heard once again by Judge Donna Ryu. Court support is appreciated; bring valid identification, and do not bring anything you that you would not want x-rayed or otherwise examined by federal police.

    Sabrina Jacobs is a journalist.
  • Medical cannabis researcher explains recent scientific review

    The article "Medical Marijuana: Clearing Away the Smoke" by Grant, Atkinson, Gouaux, and Wilsey published this month in Bentham Science's 5-year-old, peer-reviewed, National Library of Medicine-indexed and internationally edited Open Neurology Journal represents a major milestone in the consolidation of knowledge and regularizing of clinical practice with regards to the medicinal use of cannabis.

    The authors, well-established faculty members or associates at leading American academic medical centers, have yet again reviewed the gold-standard clinical trials-based evidence for medical uses of cannabis and related cannabinoids and have found:

    1. that it is inaccurate to say that cannabis lacks medical utility or that information on its safety is lacking

    2. that judgments on relative benefits and risks of cannabis and cannabinoids as medicines need to be viewed within the broader context of risk-benefit of other standard agents as well, many of which are associated with more serious adverse events, and

    3. that enough information and clinical experience exists that an algorithm can be constructed to guide decision-making for physicians who may be considering recommending medicinal cannabis to patients with neuropathic pain, which the authors offer.


    The authors conclude that "it will be useful if marijuana and its constituents can be prescribed, dispensed, and regulated in a manner similar to other medications that have psychotropic effects and some abuse potential" and state that marijuana's Schedule I classification is scientifically untenable and the greatest barrier to forward movement in this area of medicine and medical science. This conclusion is made all the more noteworthy given that the article's first, second, and fourth authors disclose at the end of the manuscript that they have served as consultants and received financial support from major pharmaceutical companies.

    Americans for Safe Access is part of a lawsuit challenging the DEA’s scheduling of marijuana as without any currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Download our lawsuit at http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Appeal.pdf

    Sunil Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., PGY-3, is a Housestaff Physician at NYU Medical Center and conducts research on the medical geography of cannabis.
  • Medical Cannabis News

    News from around the nation about medical cannabis.