Pages tagged "Medical Cannabis"

  • UFCW: Why I'm Attending the CA Unity Conference

    I will be attending the CA Unity Conference and Lobby Day because I support the hardworking, taxpaying medical cannabis members of my union, the United Food and Commercial Workers. I am a proud member of UFCW Local 5’s Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division, and a Special Projects Union Representative for Local 5. My Local was the first in the nation to start organizing cannabis workers in 2010 with the Oaksterdam family of businesses, and was a lead coalition partner in support of Proposition 19. Since then, medical cannabis workers have joined our union throughout California; in Sacramento, San Francisco, the Emerald Triangle, Los Angeles, Marin County, San Jose, and other areas across the state. We were also proud coalition partners with the Citizens Coalition for Patient Care referendum campaign in San Jose, which overturned the bad ordinance that would have effectively banned medical cannabis dispensaries. Workers have also joined UFCW’s Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division in Colorado and Michigan, and we will soon be organizing in other medical cannabis states across the country. By joining UFCW Local 5, our cannabis members have secured health insurance, a good wage, retirement benefits, paid holidays and sick leave, and most importantly, a dignified work environment through our collective bargaining agreements. Medical cannabis workers are just like any other person trying to make a living in our Union, and we are proud to stand in solidarity with them. I will be there Monday to urge my elected officials to vote “Yes” on A.B. 2312. We need to send a message to Washington D.C. that we support a dignified, regulated, unionized medical cannabis industry, and it’s time for these outrageous attacks on regulated producers and distributors of medical cannabis to stop now! Nearly 150 of Local 5’s cannabis members are out of work since the Obama administration’s inexplicable attacks on California’s medical cannabis workers began last fall. The President has always gone out of his way to say that he will not go after medical cannabis users abiding by state law, but has given a blank check to an out of control Justice Department to attack medical cannabis producers. We need to send a message to our elected officials that they can’t have it both ways on medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is overwhelmingly popular; a recent Mason-Dixon poll shows that 74% of Americans disagree with the Obama administration’s attacks on legitimate medical cannabis providers. It is simply ridiculous to tell sick and suffering patients that they can have medical cannabis, they just can’t legally get it anywhere. That is like telling a cancer patient that she can have morphine, she just has to synthesize it herself from her backyard poppy flowers! Without continued access to safe, legal medicine, the only other option for most patients is resorting to the criminal market, sending more money and power to violent gangs and cartels. Let’s put our UFCW medical cannabis members back to work by supporting A.B. 2312 and the ASA/UFCW California Unity Conference and Lobby Day. I hope to see you in Sacramento. Matt Witemyre is Special Projects Union Representative, UFCW Local 5 Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division. If you are a medical cannabis worker or cultivator and you would like more information on the benefits of joining the United Food and Commercial Workers, e-mail him at [email protected]

  • 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.
  • Why Regulated Dispensaries Should be Welcomed, not Worrisome, in DC and throughout the Nation

    Last week, two Washington, D.C. Area Neighborhood Commissions (ANC) voted unanimously in support of dispensary permit applicants who received provisionally sufficient scores by the District Department of Health to operate in their neighborhoods. Two additional medical cannabis dispensary applicants will have their applications considered at ANC meetings later in May. Some in these neighborhoods have expressed fear over negative perceptions about what medical cannabis dispensaries mean in terms of community impact; however, the best evidence available suggests that dispensaries are a benefit, not a risk, to public safety.

    Whenever the Unknown Enters your Community, it’s Natural to Worry About the Impact 
    The worry of some District residents (as well as those in each state that adopts a new medical cannabis law) of dispensaries coming into their community is natural. For those who are concerned, the reality is actually different than the fears. As research by UCLA concludes (PDF), dispensaries are actually wonderful neighbors because crime is reduced in areas surrounding well-regulated dispensaries, regardless of the existing crime level prior to the dispensary’s arrival. More specifically, “Dispensaries with security cameras and signs requiring a [patient registration identification] card had significantly lower levels of violence within 100 and 250 feet.”

    What Public Officials Have to Say About Well-Regulated Dispensaries
    Americans for Safe Access has prepared a white paper with testimonials from lawmakers, police chiefs and other municipal officials (PDF) from locations where medical cannabis dispensaries have been implemented and are well-regulated. Sebastopol CA Police Chief Jeffrey Weaver reported, "We've had no increased crime associated [with Sebastopol's medical cannabis dispensary], no fights, no loitering, no increase in graffiti, no increase in littering, zip." In much larger Los Angeles, Police Chief Charlie Beck observed that, "banks are more likely to get robbed than medical marijuana dispensaries," and that the claim that dispensaries attract crime "doesn't really bear out." Concerning community fear of the unknown, San Francisco Supervisor David Campos noted, "The parade of horrors that everyone predicted has not materialized."

    D.C.’s Public Safety Dispensary Regulations are Among the Strictest in the County
    The District of Columbia’s regulations have very stringent dispensary security requirements compared to any existing state regulations, which can be found here on pages 72-80 (DOC). In addition to the high security standards, ASA’s white paper highlights the fact that very few people - only those with appropriate registration cards - will be allowed to enter dispensaries, and that there are criminal penalties for those who sell or even give away medical cannabis acquired from a dispensary.

    The instinct of community residents to want to preserve and promote public safety in their neighborhoods is laudable. Residents with that goal should be open to the best evidence available about public safety. When it comes to medical cannabis dispensaries, their impact on community public safety ought to be welcome, not a cause for alarm.

    Mike Liszewski is ASA's Policy Director. Read ASA's complete white paper on DC's regulations and dispensary safety (PDF).
  • Oregon: Dwight is Not Right for Patients

    There has never been a clearer opportunity to demonstrate support for medical marijuana than the current race for Oregon Attorney General, which features two Democrats with decidedly different views on safe access to therapeutic cananbis. This campaign and the media it has generated is important for the national perception it creates that

    1. there is a medical marijuana movement and

    2. that our movement will act unified enough to make a difference in an election.

    This campaign is the first time any of the US Attorneys who led attacks on state legal co-op gardens has ever had to consider the marijuana vote. Dwight Holton has consistently sided with the tough on crime crowd and boasts endorsements from the group responsible for passing Oregon’s mandatory minimum sentences law.

    Judge Ellen Rosenblum – with 22 years on the bench and 14 more as a prosecutor and an attorney – says she will protect patients and uphold Oregon’s voter-approved law. That law passed in 1998, five years before her opponent Dwight Holton moved to Oregon.

    Recent polls show Rosenblum with a healthy lead. But with 60% of the vote yet to be cast, Holton can still make a comeback.

    Every vote matters in this race. Please share this on Facebook and tell all of your friends. It’s too late to mail in your ballot. You must find one of Oregon’s drop-off sites in your community. Vote Rosenblum for Oregon Attorney today.

    Jim Greig is an ASA organizer in Eugene, Oregon.
  • Romney says patients aren’t significant: Show him your significance!

    During a TV interview in Denver yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney got testy when asked about access to cannabis. He asked, “Aren’t there issues of significance you would like to talk about?”

    Mitt Romney, access to medical cannabis is significant to patients and their loved ones.

    President Obama has not been a friend to medical marijuana users, as we all know. Under his watch, more than 170 dispensaries, caregivers and patients have faced federal law enforcement action in states where medical marijuana is legal. But Mitt Romney’s statement is harsher than anything the President has said on the issue. Romney added, “I think medical marijuana should not be legal in this country.”

    Of course, given Romney’s history of flip-flops on healthcare and other issues, maybe this means he’ll change positions again, to support safe access! But we can’t sit around waiting for Presidential candidates to change their minds while caregivers are arrested and patients lose safe access to their medicine.

    That’s why we are converging on Sacramento next weekend. ASA’s California Unity Conference, and the free Monday lobby day, will build our base, educate our allies and impress the Capitol with the strength of our movement.

    To succeed on the state and federal level, we need your support. Politicians like Mitt Romney need to know that real people are suffering real harm from cruel federal policies - and that state governments are willing to stand up for their citizens’ health.

    Please join us May 19-20 for our conference - only $50 a day gets you lunch and training to be a successful advocate for patients’ rights. Monday May 21, we’ll meet with Assembly and Senate representatives to argue for compassionate use and common-sense regulations. Register today to make a difference in California - and show national politicians how significant this movement is!
  • 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!
  • Inland Empire: Why I'm attending the CA Unity Conference

    [caption id="attachment_2533" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Let's fill the Capitol!"]

    Note from Steph: To make our conference more accessible, we were able to lower the cost to just $50 for both days including lunch. Please join us!

    California's voters passed Proposition 215 in 1996, almost 16 years ago. I don't need to remind you that today, we are still fighting for our right to access our medicine. While we continue to work at the federal level to respect states' rights, we must ensure that the State of California respects the needs of patients when regulating marijuana.

    Last year we were given the shellacking of our lives in the State Capitol because there was no one up there to represent us. We cannot afford to make that mistake again. There are some very good bills - like AB2312 - and some very bad bills being considered. If our state legislators do not hear from us, who will they be listening to for our side of the issue?

    There is no substitute for your voice in Sacramento

    That’s why I am going, along with a busload of patients from the Inland Empire, to the California Unity Conference sponsored by the ASA-organized coalition, Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana. Yes, we are family and we are coming together to work on protecting patients’ rights to safe, reliable and local access. If you support safe access, you need to come and work with us. Purchase your tickets now for the conference, or arrange to join us for Lobby Day!

    PS: The IE bus of patients will be staying at a local Sacramento motel. If you are coming up and need a room, send an email to [email protected] if you would like to obtain one of the rooms at the place we are staying.
  • 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.
  • Medical Cannabis helps ALS Patient Outlive Support Groups and Neurologists

    Guest blog by Jahan Marcu. Cathy Jordan was on a panel with Jahan Marcu at the Cannabis Therapeutics Conference in Arizona.  Before taking the stage, she discussed the medical use of cannabis for ALS with the Vice Chair of ASA's Medical and Scientific Advisory Board. Cathy Jordan first noticed something was wrong in summer of 1985 when she couldn’t pick things up. Her muscles weren’t responding. A year later, in 1986 she was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). ALS is a disease characterized by the death of motor neurons leading to loss of limb control, breathing, swallowing, speech, and widespread cellular dysfunction. Most cases of ALS are sporadic; it is not a viral or autoimmune disease. “Most people (ALS patients) start using a feeding tube because they are afraid of choking to death”, says Cathy. After her diagnosis, she was given an expiration date; In 1986, she was given 3-5 years to live/die according to her neurologist,  Dr.Fink. Nearly 3 decades later she is still alive, living with ALS. “All my docs are retiring or dead, I’ve outlived 5 support groups and 4 neurologists,” said Cathy. This actually posed a problem for Cathy, who basically lost her social security benefits because she lived passed her expiration date. The state of Florida said her ID and regular documentation wasn’t good enough to prove she was alive and to continue to receive benefits. She had to ask her neurologist at the time, to fill out paperwork to prove she was still alive. Mrs. Jordan began using Cannabis from a Florida grower to treat her ALS in the late 80’s. “Donny Clark provided my medicine, grown in the Myakka River Valley…he was busted and sentenced to life in prison, and that strain of Cannabis was lost. Years later he was pardoned on the last day of the last term of President Clinton,” says Cathy, “You know they say the fountain of youth is in Florida, maybe it was something in the soil that made this plant help me…I don’t understand why Doctors wouldn’t study me—I want to know why this is helping me.” At first Doctors would not accept Cathy’s marijuana smoking and extended life span. Regardless of what she did, “a UPENN doctor told me bluntly, I would die either from suffocation or drowning in my own fluid.” Other Doctors also thought that smoking anything would impair her lung function, and threatened to have this paralyzed women committed because she must be crazy if she thought Cannabis was helping her. “I visited a neurologist at Duke University…when I told him that I was smoking Cannabis he turned into PeeWee Herman. He didn’t know what to do with me, he was afraid. He wouldn’t even take my blood pressure because I was using an illegal drug.” “I asked my docs: would you like a drug that is neuroprotective, an antioxidant, and an anti-inflammatory?,” says Cathy, “They then said Yes and asked me if I knew of one. I said yes, [it’s] Cannabis.”   There are ALS patients associations that fight for the right of patients to die with dignity, “But what about my right to life?” says Cathy. “Keeping my medicine illegal removes my right to life.” Nearly three decades later, the science has caught up with this patient. Scientists created a mouse with ALS, which was very exciting for Cathy. Research has shown that THC and other cannabinoids can benefit mice with ALS. The mounting evidence of cannabinoids halting the progression of ALS has started to change the attitudes of Doctors, prominent researchers have recently called for ALS clinical trials with Cannabis or cannabinoids. “They all agree today that I should smoke Cannabis,” says Cathy, “26 years later my original neurologist, fought [successfully] to make sure Cannabis is legal for patients in Delaware.” Researchers think Cannabis may help ALS patients relieving pain, spasticity, drooling, appetite loss, and has minimal drug-drug interactions and toxicity.
  • Obama (Double) Speaks on Medical Marijuana






    Finally, President Obama has spoken about his aggressive stance toward medical marijuana. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, his statements are underwhelming, inaccurate and do nothing to address medical marijuana as a public health issue. In response to a question from Rolling Stone on why his administration is conducting more medical marijuana raids than the Bush administration, President Obama failed to come clean on reasons for the breadth and intensity of the attacks, which significantly escalated since he took office.
    What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana…

    Actually, what Obama said on the campaign trail in 2008 was that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state [medical marijuana] laws.”

    The shell game continued with Obama declaring that, as President, he “can’t ask the Justice Department to…‘ignore…a federal law that’s on the books.’”

    In fact, Obama has complete discretion to let local and state authorities enforce their own medical marijuana laws. When affirming that discretionary authority in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court also questioned the wisdom of going after medical marijuana patients.

    Obama then declared that his Justice Department should use “prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize [its] resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.”

    That, however, seems to beg several questions, not the least of which is “how does one determine what “things” are “really doing folks damage?” Why is that not the purview of local and state officials to enforce? And, is the federal government doing more damage than it’s supposedly preventing? Keep in mind that the damage his administration has inflicted also impacts the fiscal bottom line of local and state governments. In California, dispensary closures precipitated by the federal crackdown have robbed the state of millions of dollars in lost taxes.

    The president seems to seek cover with his comment that, “there haven’t been prosecutions” of medical marijuana users. But, even if it was true, and it’s not (all of the more than 60 people indicted on his watch use medical marijuana), this reasoning would still not justify the SWAT-style raids and the fear and intimidation they create. Nor would it justify the purging of lawful medical marijuana businesses from commercial banking institutions, or the IRS requirement that dispensaries pay taxes on gross proceeds, thereby ensuring bankruptcy, or discrimination against patients in public housing and the Veterans Administration.

    At the end of the day, whether or not Obama’s Justice Department decides to prosecute whom it considers “wrongdoers,” qualified patients are still being denied a safe and legal means of obtaining their medication.

    Even Obama’s “Drug War” excuses don’t match those of his U.S. Attorneys who are directly engaged in the attacks. The president erroneously stated that, “The only tension that’s come up” has been “commercial operations” that may be “supplying recreational users.” However, U.S. Attorneys have made little reference to targeting medical marijuana businesses because they’re allegedly selling to non-patients. The prevailing excuse has been simply that dispensaries are federally illegal or that they are too close to schools and other so-called “sensitive uses” (according to federal standards, not to local or state standards).

    Obama’s weakest rationale for continuing the assault on medical marijuana patients is that he “can’t nullify congressional law.” However, the president can realistically do a number of things to address medical marijuana as a public health issue. First of all, Obama could introduce a bill that would carve out an exception for medical marijuana patients and providers. In fact, he doesn’t even have to introduce his own legislation, he could simply throw his weight behind HB 1983, a bill that would do just that. The president could also issue an executive order, not to change federal marijuana statutes but to exclude medical marijuana so as to let the states enforce their own laws.

    Additionally, the president, through his executive powers, could also reclassify marijuana from its current status as a Schedule I substance -- a dangerous drug with no medical value. Yet, he and his Drug Enforcement Administration choose not to. In addition to four governors who have filed rescheduling petitions within the last year, Americans for Safe Access has a pending federal lawsuit that seeks reclassification.

    At some point, President Obama is going to run out of excuses. Until then, please join ASA in urging him to do the right thing.