Pages tagged "Medical marijuana"

  • Let's Get Jerry Out of Prison!

    Jerry Duval (left) with his son Jeremy

    Last month, on June 11th, Michigan medical marijuana patient Jerry Duval surrendered to federal authorities to serve a whopping 10-year prison sentence, even though he was never in violation of the state's medical marijuana law. Jerry is a kidney-pancreas transplant recipient who also suffers from heart disease and glaucoma. Nevertheless, the Obama Administration saw fit to arrest, prosecute, and imprison Jerry at a cost of more than $1 million.

    This is not just a tragedy for the Duval family, though they were hit hard (as a result of the same case, Jerry's son Jeremy is serving 5 years and the Duvals lost their family farm to forfeiture), it's also an outrage that we have to foot the bill.

    However, two other milestones recently occurred that give Jerry and the rest of us hope for his release sooner than planned. Before Jerry even began serving his sentence, attorney Andrew Greenlee of Brownstone filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on behalf of Jerry and his son Jeremy. We'll be watching that one closely.


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  • National Lawyers Guild Report Condemns Federal Marijuana Policy, Calls for Reclassification of Marijuana for Medical Use

    The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) -- the country's oldest and largest public interest and human rights bar organization -- issued a report yesterday addressing the federal government's flawed policy on marijuana. According to its author NLG Senior Researcher Traci Yoder, High Crimes: Strategies to Further Marijuana Legalization Initiatives "analyzes the legalization process under way in the states, suggests strategies to further marijuana legalization initiatives, and highlights current obstacles to ending prohibition."

    While significant attention is given to the adult use of marijuana, generally, the report recommends reframing drug use as "a social and public health issue and not a criminal justice problem," something we've been saying for years at Americans for Safe Access. High Crimes also recommends reclassifying marijuana for medical use. Citing the "[m]ounting scientific and anecdotal evidence" of marijuana's therapeutic benefits, the Guild rightly points out that "Rescheduling cannabis would allow for expanded medical research and use under international law."

    The NLG report comes days after a report issued by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), detailing the social and economic costs of the federal government's war on medical marijuana. The ASA report entitled What's the Cost? is geared toward educating federal legislators on the consequences of that war, not only in terms of how it affects the prisoners, their families, and thousands of patients, but also how it impacts the average taxpayer and our federal budget.

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  • U.S. Mayors Demand Change to Federal Policy, End to Crackdown on Medical Marijuana in Their Cities



    Mayors from across the United States gathered in Las Vegas this past weekend for the 81st annual U.S. Conference of Mayors. In a watershed moment, mayors voted unanimously yesterday to adopt a  resolution "in support of states setting their own marijuana policies without federal interference." The resolution was introduced in advance of the conference by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and co-sponsored by 17 other mayors from across the country. Yesterday's passage of the resolution came just days after medical marijuana advocates issued an alarming report detailing how the Obama Justice Department has spent nearly $300 million to undermine medical marijuana laws in the U.S.

    "Ultimately, this is about whether local and state governments can develop, adopt, and implement public health laws without heavy-handed interference by the federal government," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, which authored "What's the Cost?" an extensive report issued earlier this month on the economic and social costs of the federal government's war on medical marijuana. "This resolution is emblematic of the frustration experienced by local and state officials, which will continue until the federal government ends its attacks on medical marijuana." More than 100 million people, or 34 percent of Americans, currently live in states with medical marijuana laws.


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  • Taking your seat at the table in California - August 12

    There is an important conversation about medical cannabis happening in Sacramento right now. That conversation will affect how medical cannabis patients get their medicine, who regulates the field, whether or not every community will have safe and dignified access, and more. Will you have a seat at the table? Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our coalition partners at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana (CRMM) want to make sure you do. Join us in Sacramento for an important citizen lobby day at the state Capitol on Monday, August 12, to be heard.

    Our previous lobby days have been effective in moving the ball down the field for sensible statewide medical cannabis regulation, but there is still a lot of work to be done to pass a bill this year. The next lobby day comes at a crucial juncture in the legislative process and at a time when grassroots support for moving forward is badly needed. We need to make a strong showing on August 12, so that lawmakers know that voters in their legislative districts support regulation. Otherwise, they will only be hearing from lobbyists representing divergent views on medical cannabis – law enforcement, local government, industry interests, and others. Patients and their advocates need to be part of that conversation, or our interests may be crowded out!

    Lawmakers need to hear from you face-to-face. When you register for the California Summer Lobby Day on August 12, ASA will make an appointment for you to meet your state Assemblymember and Senator or his or her staff that afternoon. There are 120 legislative offices to visit. If we are in most or all of those offices on August 12, the impact will be significant. Help us make it happen.

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  • What's the Cost?

    Did you know that the Department of Justice has already spent nearly a half a billion dollars fighting medical cannabis? Did you know that the Obama Administration spent over half of that money on medical cannabis investigations, paramilitary-style raids, prosecutions, incarceration, and civil asset forfeiture lawsuits? Most Americans do not know these things, but what is worse is that most Members of Congress don't know that either. Can you help Americans for Safe Access (ASA) let them know?

    Make a donation of $50 or more to help ASA send copies of our groundbreaking new report "What is the Cost" to every Member of Congress, and we will send you your own copies to give to your Representatives in July.

    56 full-color pages filled with facts about the economic and human cost of the federal attack on medical cannabis comprise this timely report. The economic arguments are persuasive, but the report also highlights the human cost of federal enforcement. "What is the Cost" contains moving profiles of the victims of federal enforcement – those who have died for lack of safe access to medicine and those who are in federal prison right now. The report ends with politically-viable solutions to end the federal attack on medical cannabis that Congress could adopt this year.

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  • Compassionate Idaho is Now a Chapter of ASA

    We have Exciting news to share!! Compassionate Idaho is now a chapter of Americans For Safe Access (ASA)! This is exciting for us for a number of reasons but it is an honor to be a chapter of such a renowned organization. ASA has worked at the Federal and State Levels for Years and is Very active in helping protect patients from arrest, prosecution, and forfeiture. They Demand Safe Access for Patients Now! They have even sued our Federal Government to try to reschedule cannabis to a lower level to recognize it's medical value. They take the 'legalization for recreation' out of the debate and focus on the patients and their needs. Currently there is a 'Peace For Patients Campaign' running. Clearly this is a Great fit for Compassionate Idaho and we couldn't be happier about it!

    This means a lot to us on many levels. We will have more resources in general. They can help us with fundraisers and campaigns. They can help with training our activists to be Extremely efficient with their tools. They provide access to doctors that are experts in their fields and have vast knowledge for cannabis and the human body. Their 'About' page says it best.

    "Founded ASA in 2002, Americans for Safe Access is the largest organization of Patients, medical professionals, scientists, and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis. We engage a multifaceted strategy public education, impact litigation, grassroots development and advocacy, media campaigns, and direct support services.



    Until there is safe access, We are Americans for Safe Access."

    Whenever someone joins ASA and joins the Compassionate Idaho Chapter we will benefit and so will ASA, and we believe that the Idaho Chapter will be the biggest Chapter for any organization for medical marijuana reform in the state! We will have access and support to educational sources and all of their vast resources. They, in turn, will have a new Chapter in a new State, that is Completely in support of what they do and grateful to have them! We hope that we can help build their network while we expand and educate, and of course, run the petition. By joining ASA you are supporting reform at both the state And Federal Levels. There are several campaigns currently running and we encourage going to their website and learn more about them at: www.americansforsafeaccess.org.

    Joining Americans for Safe Access gives us something that has been a LONG time coming! We will now fall under their 501c4!! We can officially say that we are a Non-profit! And so can you when you hit our 'Donate' button! We have operated as a non-profit for a long time and have had our records in order the entire time to prepare for this. The time is here!! So, Please hit the Donate Button!

    We have a new 9 Person Board for our Steering Committee with myself, Lindsey Rinehart voted in as Chair, Josh Rinehart voted in as Vice Chair, Sarah Caldwell voted in as Treasurer, James Richardson voted in as Secretary, Lauren Leonard voted in as Vice Secretary, Bill Esbensen as vote in as Outreach, April Brown voted in as Event Coordinator, Jared Dunn voted in as Education Outreach, and Coty Ternes voted in as Technology Specialist. We already have several 'Founding Chapter Members' who helped with the voting process and were part of the nomination pool. Of course we want as many members as possible so Please join ASA Today here and select Idaho. Eventually it will be changed to reflect that Compassionate Idaho is the option and leave room for more chapters. We are hoping to have several sub-chapters throughout the state! A portion of your donation to them will be remitted to us!

    Every Compassionate Idaho meeting is now a Compassionate Idaho Chapter of ASA meeting. Every training, every potluck, every educational forum, every Volunteer Meet and Greet. Anything that Compassionate Idaho does also represents ASA!! This is a Huge step forward in reform for medical marijuana in Idaho and we hope that you will join us in our excitement and join today!! Of course you don't Have to be an ASA member to be a Compassionate Idaho Supporter and we don't want Anyone to feel that they can't participate with us due to not having an ASA membership!! Please understand we don't want to lose anyone at all. Joining ASA is Great but if you can't, we certainly understand and still want you to stand with us! Joining ASA will propel us forward but we certainly don't intend on leaving Anyone behind!

    Please look for new updates, new posts, new pages on the website, and much more in the Very near future and Please join ASA with us if you can! We would Love to have you in Our Chapter!

  • Regulate Pot, Don’t Prosecute It



    It seems that area law enforcement has not yet learned the value of working WITH the local community.

    Thursday's raid on The Greener Side, a medical marijuana resource center, can hardly be considered a top priority. With law enforcement services severely cut across the state, surely there are more dangerous individuals threatening community safety than a group of medical marijuana patients.

    Besides the raid in Eugene, it has been reported that after a two year investigation, up to 70 law enforcement officers were used in concurrent raids in southern Oregon.

    In August of last year a woman in Josephine County called 911 as a man who had previously assaulted her was breaking into her home. The dispatcher had to tell the woman there was no one to send. The county had laid off 23 deputies because of budget cuts.



    In Oregon in 2010 (according to OSP statistics) there were 1,246 reported forcible rapes - yet only 243 arrests were made. How long will Oregon voters stand for our po

    lice and sheriffs kowtowing to the federal drug war bureaucracy?

    How long before Oregon legislators and voters figure out the simple economics of cannabis regulation over cannabis persecution?

    How long before Oregon's leaders disavows this  federal lunacy and acts to PROTECT patients instead of throwing them under the Prohibition bus?

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    This was also published in the Registered  Guard
  • AB 473 falls short in California Assembly

    Tom Ammiano

    The California Assembly rejected AB 473 on Friday. The 35-37 vote means the effort by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF) to regulate commercial medical cannabis activity in the state will not move on to the Senate. Friday was the last day for bills to be approved in their house of origin, but even after two votes in as many days, the controversial bill did not garner the forty one votes needed for approval. AB 473 would have created a new Division in the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to write and enforce statewide regulations.

    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our coalition partners at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana (CRMM) strongly support the goal of better and more equitably regulating commercial medical cannabis activity in California. Although medical cannabis has been legal in the state for seventeen years, the legislature has never adopted a comprehensive plan to implement Proposition 215 or regulate cultivation, transportation, and distribution of medicine. Patients, cultivators, industry workers, and other stakeholders need sensible regulations to help overcome public ambivalence, perceptions of abuse, and wildly inconsistent enforcement practices in communities across the state.



    AB 473 might have been an important step towards a better-regulated medical cannabis system in California, but there were some big problems with the bill. The medical cannabis community was reluctant to embrace ABC as a regulatory body for medical cannabis. ASA steadfastly argued for regulatory oversight in another part of the Department of Consumer Affairs or the Department of Health. We worried that ABC, which is charged with reigning in vice, would be poorly motivated to facilitate access to medicine.

    ASA also took issue with an eleventh-hour amendment in the Appropriations Committee that made local zoning approval a prerequisite for the state registration required under the bill. More than two-hundred cities and counties already have bans on medical cannabis patients’ cooperatives and collectives. Others have bans or severe limitations on cultivating medicine. A recent California Supreme Court Decision, City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, authorizes local bans, and many of our constituents were looking for legislation that corrected or mitigated the court’s unfortunate ruling. This amendment did the opposite.

    One lesson from AB 473 is that lawmakers need to hear from supporters in their community if we expect them to make difficult decisions and stand up for medical cannabis. AB 473 lost because Democrats in Southern and Central California failed to support the bill. Fourteen Democrats from these more conservative parts of the state joined five Northern California Democrats in voting no on the bill. Another seven Democrats cast no vote at all, which is functionally vote against the bill (forty-one votes are needed for approval). The bill only needed six of those twenty six votes to pass. Could patients and advocates have swayed six of these twenty six Democrats to vote yes, if the Assemblymembers knew there was support for an affirmative vote at home? Absolutely.

    Another lesson from AB 473 is that lawmakers need to listen to their constituents when they have concerns about legislation. The community’s uncertainty about the net benefit of AB 473 was clear. The Author and Democratic leadership must realize that our community expects to be heard alongside the army of lawyers, lobbyists, and consultants that have flocked to this issue in the last two years. Medical cannabis may be a nascent industry, but it is still fundamentally a patients’ movement. Patients must be at the table when bills and amendments are being vetted.

    Perhaps the most important lesson from the demise of AB 473 is the need for pragmatism from all of the stakeholders. This bill was imperfect, but the process of implementing medical cannabis law and regulating commercial activity must move forward for everyone’s benefit. We are not going to get everything we want in a medical cannabis bill right now, and we will not be able to stop every proposal or amendment with which we disagree. Compromise is part of the political process. It would be a shame to miss another opportunity to move the ball down the court for patients, cultivators, and industry workers because we do not agree on all of the details.

    We are going to have another chance to do something about medical cannabis in Sacramento this year. SB 439 by Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Senator Mark Leno (D-SF) was approved by the Senate on May 20. That bill will clarify the scope of protection offered by the state’s medical cannabis laws and codifies guidelines published by the Attorney General in 2008. SB 439 will formally recognize the right of patients’ cooperatives and collectives to maintain storefront facilities (dispensaries) to provide medicine for members, expands protections to employees of patients’ associations, and recognizes that members buy their medicine from the associations. Substantial amendments – good and bad – are likely as the bill moves through the Assembly.

    Let’s learn our lessons from AB 473 and do a better job of shaping and adopting SB 439. Speak up to your lawmakers about this bill, insist that everyone is included in the debate, and be reasonable about compromises that may be necessary to get where we need to go.

  • CA Supreme Court ruling puts the ball in our court



    The California Supreme Court ruled on Monday that medical cannabis dispensaries are legal under state law, but cities and counties can still ban them. The decision in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center is disappointing, but it is not the end of the fight for safe and dignified access to medicine in approximately two hundred communities where patients' associations are banned. The Supreme Court pointed out that "nothing prevents future efforts by the Legislature, or by the People, to adopt a different approach." That means the ball is in your court now.

    Ask your California lawmakers to protect safe access for every legal patient by adopting statewide regulations based on our "Principles of Sensible Medical Cannabis Regulation." Two measures before the state legislature seek to regulate medical cannabis activity – AB 473 by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and SB 439 by Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). Act now to be sure these two measures, which are still being finalized by lawmakers, reflect what patients and other medical cannabis stakeholders want to see.



    Almost one hundred members of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our allies hit the halls of the State Capitol Building on Monday to take our pro-regulation message directly to our elected Representatives. The California Medical Cannabis Policy Summit and Lobby day was a success, but we need to stay at the table as the legislative session continues. You can ask your Assemblymember and Senator to adopt sensible regulations whether or not you were at the Capitol this week. Send a message right now.

    ASA will be rolling out new programs this summer to help patients and advocates fight local bans with new legislation and voter initiatives. Your participation and support will be the key to success in Sacramento and in communities statewide. You can start helping by joining ASA or making an additional contribution right now. 

    I want to say a special thank you to everyone who attended the summit and lobby day, and especially to our sponsors – California NORML, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Bay Area Safe Alternatives, Greater Los Angeles Collectives Alliance, Emerald Growers Association, Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, Berkeley Patients Group, Crusaders for Patients Rights, Good Fellows Smoke Shop, and Desert Organic Solutions Collective.

    Thank you for acting to support regulations and fighting with ASA for safe access for everyone.

  • Activist Spotlight: Bunny Hethcox, Columbus, Wisconsin



    Bunny Hethcox is a 54-year-old mother of two and grandmother of six. A real estate broker for 17 years, Bunny taught her kids drugs were bad. But Bunny also suffers from fibromyalgia, PTSD, depression and anxiety, and one day while driving with her son, she had a bad panic attack and was unable to find her xanax. After pulling over, sweating and shaking, her son pulled a joint from his pocket and said “I think you need this more than I do.” It took her a minute to decide whether to yell at him or try it, but once she did, she discovered that cannabis calmed her considerably.

    Hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, Demerol and various other drugs had failed to ease the pain of her fibromyalgia, but after using medical cannabis for several months for her anxiety, she found that the pain lifted and her intense PTSD symptoms became tolerable. That got her doing some research on cannabis and the history of its prohibition.



    Last January, she got involved with politics for the first time, doing a lobby day at the Wisconsin state capitol. After a disappointing visit with her representative, she decided to find help changing the law. She came across the ASA website only ten minutes before the deadline for scholarship applications to ASA’s National Conference in Washington D.C., but got it in on time.  She got the scholarship, and off she went to DC for the first time, worried about flying alone and what she’d find at the conference.

    After meeting doctors, scientists, lawyers and leaders of medical research from the Netherlands, Canada and Israel she knew she needed to do what she could to help people get safe and legal access. She asked how to start an ASA chapter in Wisconsin, and on April 13, Bunny held the first meeting.

    “We are now on our way to help Wisconsin become a legal State,” she says. “I have two choices, live in pain and suffer with anxiety and depression by keeping the law or break the law by medicating myself with cannabis to live a normal life. I choose cannabis.”