Pages tagged "Medical Cannabis"

  • Will New Hampshire live up to its state motto by adopting compassionate use?

    Over the past twelve years, New Hampshire has attempted several times to legislate the usage of cannabis for medical purposes. A 2009 bill was vetoed by Governor John Lynch. From 2000 to 2007 there were four attempts but the measure did not pass the New Hampshire House. But yesterday's passage of SB 409 through the State Senate and House conference committee is a new opportunity.

    The New Hampshire state motto is “Live Free or Die,” however to those who live in New Hampshire and are sick, hurt and longing for a better quality of life, the state motto may feel like the “To Live or Die” state. But we can change that now.

    SB 409, the 2012 New Hampshire Medical Marijuana Bill sponsored by Republican Senator Jim Forsythe, differs from previous attempts. The language is different, the key politicians are different, the activism is different. In the end, will the result be same or is 2012 the year to achieve success?

    We think this may be the best chance we have!

    New Hampshire has the largest state legislature in the union with 400 House members and 24 Senators. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the legislature, but, perhaps ironically, medical marijuana has found great support among Republicans.

    Legislators who in the past voted against medical marijuana, such as Senator Jeb Bradley, Gary Lambert and Peter Bragdon, now support SB 409. Senator Bradley even publicly stated to New Hampshire Chiefs of Police Association representative Richard Crate at the Senate hearing that their opposition to the issue, “does not reflect the fact that for some, medical marijuana works.”

    NH Compassion Executive Director Kirk McNeil and Matt Simon, a Marijuana Policy Project [9] Legislative Analyst, have been working alongside activists like me and other various groups to pass the bill. We built a broad coalition including NH Students for Sensible Drug Policy led by Jennifer Hall, NH Disabled American Veterans, NH Vets for Peace, and Americans for Safe Access, just to name a few.

    Patients, veterans and students bravely gave public testimony

    Over the past few months members of the public have testified at open public hearings on the effectiveness of medical marijuana in helping them battle disease and disability. The most dramatic and passionate testimony has come from New Hampshire veterans, many of whom have said without the ability to use cannabis for medical reasons, they and their families would have been destroyed. The one thing that frightens them and the main reason why they are speaking out is because in order to get medical marijuana, the patient must put their family members at risk to procure the medicine.

    Governor Lynch cites the federal ban on cannabis as listed on CSA schedule 1 - that cannabis has no accepted medicinal use - as the reason why he continues to oppose a compassionate use law. Well, with the Food and Drug Administration allows international companies like GW Pharmaceuticals in England to offer a phase III clinical study on human patients in the United States And of course there is the famous Compassionate Individual New Drug Program, the federal program that allows qualifying patients to use cannabis for palliative and therapeutic relief. Today there are only two surviving patients out of the initial 34 patients who receive 200 pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes a month. One vocal program member, Irvin Rosenfeld, attended a press conference and met with legislators in Concord in May to discuss this program and support state efforts on SB 409.

    While our own federal government ignores these studies and continues to put sick patients, veterans and others behind bars for using or providing medical cannabis, our state legislators are attempting to help New Hampshire residents to have a better quality of life. Pharmaceuticals which have been prescribed by doctors and pushed by the “Big Pharma” can have unacceptable side affects or not work well for everyone. The opportunity to legally use cannabis for medical purposes is a chance to allow our sick the ability to be productive parents, husbands and wives - not to mention a healthier person.

    How can Governor Lynch continue to say he is the leader of New Hampshire, the original freedom-loving state, when he fails to lead in being compassionate to the sick? Do the special interests of big business, health care networks and others mean more to him than the ability for a NH veteran or a single mother of three to be healthier individuals using medical cannabis as an alternative medicine?

    Without compassion toward suffering patients who want to use medical cannabis, The “Live Free or Die” state is not practicing what the state motto preaches. Until the Governor changes his position, New Hampshire residents will just have to “Live or Die.” It is obvious over the past twelve years that New Hampshire has been walking down a road to legalize medical marijuana. With 71% of New Hampshire residents supporting safe access, how can the governor maintain his heartless position?

    If you live in New Hampshire, please contact Governor Lynch at 603-271-2121, or tweet at him @GovJohnLynch, and ask him to have compassion for patients and sign SB 409 into law.

    Gregory Pawlowski is a patient and advocate in New Hampshire.
  • California's Unity Vigil: supporting medical cannabis POWs

    The recent California Unity Conference provided an opportunity for California’s medical cannabis patients, caregivers, allies and associates to come together to initiate a successful, informative and vital discussion with our community and our lawmakers. But while we focused on the future of our movement, we also took time to mourn those we have lost.

    Sunday night before the Lobby Day, Unity Conference participants gathered at the Sacramento Federal Courthouse, coming together in vigil for medical marijuana prisoners of war, the aggressive forced closures of our state's dispensaries, and brave patients who have passed away before seeing an end to this struggle. Sacramento patients had been mobilizing weekly at the Federal Courthouse since the first week of this year, supporting each other and the victims of the drug war. But this gathering was especially bittersweet, and not just because we were joined by our brothers and sisters from across the state.

    We Sacramento area advocates recently learned the crushing news of the passing of our dear friend and activist Joy Cole. Among numerous projects that Joy had spearheaded with our local ASA Chapter, Sac Patients, was organizing the weekly candlelight vigil group. Joy had also stood up in support of POWs Mollie Fry and Dale Schafer, rallying before their surrender to federal marshals while ASA organized the delivery of "Cease & Desist" orders to federal officials in 10 medical marijuana states, as part of our “Sick & Tired” campaign. Despite the effects of battling cancer, Joy was a constant voice for patient rights - whether behind a sign, behind a microphone before city and county officials, or behind a pen, writing to lawmakers and newspaper editors.

    Unity Conference gatherers took a moment of silence for all of our brothers and sisters who can longer fight for safe access, having lost their life or their freedom. We closed the evening inspired to continue the momentum of our movement.

    We hope you have the opportunity to find inspiration in supporting fellow patients and standing up for medical cannabis prisoners and those awaiting trial. Check out Supporting POWs in ASA's training center. Reach out to local ASA Chapters, Ambassadors and Allied Organizations to coordinate court support, and if you live in California, sign up to receive ASA's California Roundup, a weekly email highlighting news and actions from around the state.

    Courtney Sheats is ASA’s Sacramento Community Liason.
  • Connecticut becomes 17th Medical Cannabis State: A Patient's Perspective

    Safe access to medical cannabis became law in Connecticut today, when HB 5389 was signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy. The compassionate use bill will take effect on October 1st, 2012. Below is a perspective from a Connecticut patient who testified in support of the bill this Spring.

    The Bumpy Road We Faced

    I am proud to see medical cannabis legalized in my home state of Connecticut. The path to compassion was not an easy one - the bill's passage in the Senate was contentious. The vote came only after over 10 hours of debate, about 9 of which were entirely taken up by Senator Toni Boucher (R-143rd District), who made no one but Strom Thurmond's ghost happy with her marathon filibuster attempt, which was filled with "reefer madness" scare tactics, misinformation, and easily contradicted statistics. None of her 48(!) proposed amendments passed, the handful that were brought up were soundly rejected.

    May 5, 2012 was a long day for me. Several friends, fellow advocates and I were home watching CT-N starting at 4pm sharp, when the Senate debate on the bill was supposed to begin (it officially began around 4:20pm, interestingly enough). It soon became clear that it would not be what time will the bill receive a vote, but what day. The first person to speak was the Judiciary Committee Chair, Sen. Eric Coleman (D-Hartford/Bloomfield/Windsor). The second was Deputy Minority Leader John Kissel (R-7th District). Both men heartily approved of the bill, making well known the positive implications of the bill far outweighed the negatives, and how the bill was about helping sick people, not turning healthy people sick.

    I and a few other UConn students (and many, many more patients and safe access advocates) went and spoke in favor of this bill during the Judiciary Committee hearing this past March, and Coleman and Kissel were quick to vocalize their understanding of the challenges facing patients and their loved ones. Several other members of the committee spoke up in admirable and passionate support of the bill throughout the day, but Senators Kissel and Coleman engaged patients, including myself, in a way that I hope all patients experience when testifying at a committee hearing. I appreciate what they and others (Representative Fox-D, Rep Bacchiochi-R, and more) have done to aid their constituents more than they will ever know, and I will not soon forget it.

    This Medicine Really Works Better Than Other Options

    Living with a chronic disease, as I have lived with Crohn's disease for nearly my entire life, is no cakewalk. It ranks as the most difficult thing I've had to overcome in my life, and the pain and stress has been nothing but exacerbated by doctor after doctor, treatment after treatment, pill after prescribed pill (including dangerous opiates), all doing very little to help in the end to ease my symptoms. Cannabis brings back my appetite, relieves swelling and pain, regulates my sleep schedule, and provides a welcome respite from the stress all these maladies plus a typical contemporary college life have bestowed upon me. Is the bill perfect? No. Does cannabis absolutely cure my illness? No. Is the passage of this bill, and the subsequent freedom of CHOICE that myself and my doctors may now exercise to use medicine that truly helps a step in the right direction? The answer is a loud and unparalleled yes!

    This is, in a nutshell, what I told the judiciary committee late that night in the Capitol. I can't speak for all of them, but they, as legislators spoke for us with their votes. The senate and house were somewhat divided, but the law is now clear: Medical cannabis is coming to Connecticut. Chronic pain, watch your back!

    A Great Step Forward, But Improvements Are Necessary

    Senator Boucher did manage to say one thing I'll concede to her when she boasted, "I could go on about this forever", which she said no less than four times over her 9-hour sprint-to-nowhere. It feels very surreal and unfortunate to know far more about cannabis than some of the legislators who are legislating our safe access to medical cannabis. It feels even stranger to see legislators deciding medical worth in any capacity, but thankfully my state was fortunate to have legislators pass a medical law.

    This good fortune is not absolute, however, and improvements to the bill will need to be made. Patients should be able to grow their own medicine, children under 18 should not have to suffer when medical cannabis therapy is appropriate for them and parents grant informed consent, privacy and civil protections for patients should be improved, overly cautious regulations on dispensaries ought to be relaxed, and many more conditions should be permitted. But if recent legislation is any indication of the future, we may be headed in such a promising direction.

    Sal Sodaro is a student and a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at the University of Connecticut.
  • CA Unity Conference: You Can Still Be a Part of History

    ASA’s California Unity Conference was a huge success. For two days, 200 advocates learned about the steps our movement needs to take to be successful, met and networked with advocates from their regions, and trained in a variety of tools to advance our cause. On the third day, an unprecedented 300 patient advocates stormed the Sacramento Capitol to bring our message directly to the lawmakers. It was an inspiring moment.


    If you couldn’t attend our conference, you can participate virtually. Below you can watch the video by lawmakers encouraging us to lobby our representatives. You can download our workbook as a PDF, and use it to learn how to speak effectively to your elected representatives - in California and beyond.

    The crowning achievement of the conference was our mass lobby day, when 300 activists from across the state lobbied their representatives in support of AB2312 and SB1182. We had constituents from 70 of the 80 Assembly Districts and 36 of the 40 Senate districts - a statewide turnout that in the past has only been matched by California’s heaviest-hitting interest groups. Our medical cannabis advocates were well-trained and well-informed, and we showed Sacramento that patients are a political force to be reckoned with!

    You can multiply our efforts

    Even if you could not be there to talk to your representatives in person, you can lobby for sensible statewide regulation from the comfort of your own home. Go to ASA’s Online Action Center to look up your California Assemblymember and Senator, and email and call them to ask them to support AB2312 and SB1182. Please do so this week, as the vote will happen by Friday night. It is your support that will multiply the work of the advocates at the conference, and bring safe access to California.

    Thanks to everyone who attended and supported the conference, our movement has made a giant step forward. We will be building on this success in other parts of the country as the struggle for safe access continues. Stay tuned, and thanks for your support!

  • Another Signal to Washington - Opposing Safe Access is a Losing Strategy

    Voters in El Paso, TX sent a strong message to Washington yesterday by electing safe access supporter Beto O'Rourke as the Democratic nominee to the state's 16th District Congressional seat by a substantial 6-point margin - ousting an eight-term, anti-cannabis incumbent. This result should put both Congress and the White House on notice: supporting safe access = win; belittling cannabis support = defeat.

    O'Rourke's opponent, Silvestre Reyes, provided a clear contrast on safe access. Backed by both President Obama and former President Clinton, Reyes denounced the very idea of reform as something beneath the intellect of a child. Not only did Reyes grossly misjudge his constituency, he apparently insulted them (or more accurately, O'Rourke's message inspired them) such that voter turnout was nearly 50% higher than in 2010.

    Opposing Safe Access is Bad Politics

    While safe access may once have been a so-called "3rd rail" issue, that is no longer the case in many parts of the country, a trend is only going to continue to grow. Last week, Oregonians chose safe access supporter Ellen Rosenblum over former US Attorney and warrior against safe access, Dwight Holton. In 2010, ASA made news by leading the charge in the successful defeat of medical cannabis hater Steve Cooley with our "Not Cooley" campaign. In fact, President Obama himself ran as a supporter of safe access during the 2008 race, and was elected to the highest office in the land! Still a 3rd rail issue? Only if you have a time machine or a have no backbone.

    Supporting Safe Access is Wise Even in Key Battleground States

    Why is campaigning against safe access bad campaign strategy, particular for Obama in 2012? Take Ohio for example, quite possibly the most important battleground state in any recent presidential election. In 2009 (the most recent state poll available), medical cannabis polled very favorably, with 72% of registered voters supporting safe access. While seniors were least likely to favor safe access, nearly two-thirds (64%) were in favor of medical cannabis access.

    With poll numbers like that, and a growing track record of elections decided on the issue of medical marijuana, a politician would be foolish not to embrace a safe access platform.

    Mike Liszewski is ASA's Policy Director. If you are a resident of the El Paso area, be sure to follow Beto O'Rourke on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Obama Stance on Safe Access Disappoints Veterans

    On Memorial Day, a grass-roots group of veterans expressed their disappointment in the Obama administration's stance on access to medical cannabis. Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access petitioned the White House to allow veterans access to medical cannabis to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, receiving over 8000 signatures on WhiteHouse.gov. The reply was disappointing.

    President Obama's Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske introduced his long-delayed response by lamenting "substance abuse" issues that trouble many veterans, and then asserted that medical marijuana cannot treat any symptom. This from an administration that refuses to allow research on the health benefits of cannabis!

    Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access were very disappointed in the administration's response - both that access to medical cannabis will not be provided to veterans of America's armed forces, and the tone of the Drug Czar's long-delayed response. They said in a statement:
    We Veterans petitioned the Obama Administration to: "Allow United States Disabled Military Veterans access to medical marijuana to treat their PTSD."

    The White House response to our petition was very disappointing. We asked for a change in policy. To have our petition answered by the drug czar,an ex policeman, is most inappropriate given the drug czar is bound by law to ONLY discuss current law and has no power to discuss policy change with the public. Even the lowest ranking staffer at the White House or anyone from the Veterans Health Authority would have been more appropriate.

    Al Byrne, retired Naval Officer and co-founder of VMCA, was blunt in his assessment of the White House concern for injured Veterans:

    "Vets have used cannabis for PTS since the Revolutionary War. We know what we need and to be told by our President, the Commander in Chief, that he does not care about those he has sent to war by denying medicine to the wounded is unconscionable."

    The Department of Veterans Affairs is also now in direct conflict with the White House.

    According to the Veterans Affairs, Undersecretary of Health in correspondence with our Executive Director, Michael Krawitz: "The provider (VA) will take the use of medical marijuana into account in all prescribing decisions, just as the provider would for any other medication.

    On Memorial Day, all Americans acknowledge the sacrifices our veterans have made for our freedom and security. President Obama missed an opportunity to value veterans' sacrifices by allowing them safe access to all therapies recommended by their doctors.
  • Key CA Committee Passes Safe Access Bill

    This afternoon the Appropriations Committee of the California State Assembly approved AB2312, the Medical Marijuana Tax, Regulate and Control Act sponsored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-SF). This key committee has the power to approve or deny legislation that has an impact on the budget. Last week the bill was placed in "suspense," which is legislative lingo for "end of the road." Most political insiders had written us off, so today's vote moving the bill to the full Assembly was an important, and unexpected, victory.
    This bill moved forward because of you - the power of the grassroots

    300 patients and advocates pushed this bill against the current when they visited every legislative office as part of the CA Unity Conference on Monday. They - joined by thousands of you who sent emails to your Assemblymembers - deserve the lion's share of the credit for today’s victory. Our coalition with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the Emerald Growers Association, CA NORML, the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, and others has a created a powerful new voice in Sacramento, standing up for patients.

    Today's vote is evidence that medical cannabis is “growing up” as a serious issue in Sacramento. Legislators and politicians see us in a new light after Monday's lobby day. Our broad coalition and demonstrated ability to mobilize constituents has forced Sacramento to take us and our concerns seriously.

    A great victory, but more work to do

    We have an uphill battle to get approval from the full Assembly and Senate. This vote was a great step forward but we still need your help. Take action to support AB 2312 today and show Sacramento that we are a strong political movement!
  • 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.
  • 300 Medical Cannabis Advocates Lobbied the CA Legislature Today!

    Today, 300 advocates representing every part of California have met with each of the 120 legislative offices to urge the passage of AB2312 and SB1182. A few minutes after noon, hundreds rallied on the steps of the Capitol to demonstrate their united, enthusiastic support for sensible, statewide regulation of medical cannabis in keeping with the voter-approved Prop 215. Addressing the rally were Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, UFCW Director Dan Rush, Californians for Cannabis Policy Reform leader Dale Sky Jones, and Americans for Safe Access California Director Don Duncan and Executive Director Steph Sherer.
    "The grassroots - no pun intended - is how we change the world," said Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, sponsor of AB2312. "I look forward to all of you speaking to my colleagues, your representatives, and passing this important, common-sense regulation of medical cannabis."

    "Today we are a unified, California medical cannabis community that’s energized and ready to educate our representatives in support of this important legislation. We’re especially proud of our members in Local 5, Local 8, and Local 770 for engaging in the democratic process and uniting with our sisters and brothers in this new industry," said Dan Rush, United Food and Commercial Workers Director, National Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division, on the steps of the Capitol.

    "The lack of safe, well-regulated access to medical marijuana is tragedy for the families and victims of violent crime who don’t have the full attention of law enforcement. I stand with the victims of violent crime today, as a mother. I demand our justice department go after gun violence, child predators and human traffickers," said Dale Sky Jones of Californians for Cannabis Policy Reform.

    "While you’re here lobbying in person, you are joined by tens of thousands of virtual visitors from all over the state who are emailing their representatives," said Don Duncan, California Director of ASA, to the assembled advocates.

    "Today the medical cannabis movement has shown state legislators that we're diverse and we're organized. We've come together to pass AB2312, to create sensible statewide regulations for safe access for patients and safe communities across the state of California." said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA.