Pages tagged "National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference"


Why I Am Going

Airplane sunsetI will be joining hundreds of other medical cannabis advocates in Washington, DC, March 27-31 for ASA’s third annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference and Citizen Lobby Day. I am going because, in the wake of last year’s historic vote to end funding for federal interference, there has never been this much momentum for a comprehensive national medical cannabis policy. I am excited to talk with patients, researchers, industry leaders, and other advocates about what is on the horizon for medical cannabis. But I am even more excited to talk face-to-face with members of Congress about what we want to see in a bill this year!

I want to see as many Californians in DC as possible. What Congress does with medical cannabis will have a big impact on patients and the industry that serves them. We know the best outcomes for stakeholder come when they have a seat at the table. Your voice really matters. Research shows that visits from ordinary citizens are six times more likely to influence lawmakers than visits from a paid lobbyist!

If you have not done so already, get registered and make your travel arrangements now. Have a look at the “ASA Website Spotlight” section of this message to learn about a free tool ASA has designed to help you raise money to be a part of this important event.

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Happy Holidays, California

ASA Signature Vape Pen

Contents:

  • Message from the CA Director: Happy Holidays, California

  • News: National, California, San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Fresno County, Costa Mesa, Sonoma County

  • Public Meetings & Events: Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington DC

  • Court Support: None this week

  • Take Action Now: Support the Medical Marijuana Organ Transplant Act, Join the ASA-CCSA Discussion List, Expand the Green Zone

  • ASA Website Spotlight: National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference 2015

  • Chapter & Affiliate Meetings: None this week

Happy Holidays to ASA members and friends in California! 

2014 may be winding down, but medical cannabis activity at the state level is speeding up! See the News section of this message for articles about an exciting development in court for patients who use concentrates and a new player in the statewide regulatory game - the State Water Resources Control Board. That agency will join lawmakers in trying to regulate medical cannabis cultivation next year. Meanwhile, cities and counties are still grappling with local regulation, a Los Angeles neighborhood rejected a medical cannabis Santa Claus, and the results from the states biggest outdoor cannabis contest are in.

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Take advantage of early-bird registration for the conference

Register_Now_Graphic.jpgASA is hosting out third annual national conference March 27-31, 2015, in Washington, DC. The National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference 2015 will be our largest and most important conference yet. Hundreds of patients, advocates, scientists, and industry leaders will meet at the Lowes Madison Hotel in the heart of downtown for three days of networking, education, and action. This will be the premier medical cannabis event of the year. Will you be there?

The issue of medical cannabis has never been more visible in the national media or present in the minds of lawmakers. The medical cannabis industry and movement are evolving faster than ever before. Plan right now to join leaders in the science, politics, and activism of medical cannabis from all overt the United States and the world.  You will have a front row seat for the exciting conversations about the future of medical cannabis in the United States and play an active and important role in shaping public policy. 

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ASA’s DC Conference is underway!

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

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

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

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My Bumpy Road To The ASA Conference in Washington D.C.


I spent the last three years working as an Executive Legislative Assistant to a ranking budget chair in the Washington State Legislature, so it should come as no surprise that a trip to the Nation’s Capitol has always been high on my  bucket list. I was this close to fulfilling my dream in 2008, after scrimping and saving for over two years on a relatively low salary. Unfortunately, prohibition happened.


I became a medical cannabis patient in ‘05 while living in Oregon. At that time, I did not know that I had a rare genetic disorder; only that I had long been suffering from chronic joint and muscle pain, extreme nausea and vomiting, disabling migraines and eventual insomnia. After an honest conversation with my doctor about the handfuls of pills I was taking to mask the symptoms - at the ripe ol’ age of 25, mind you – it was suggested that cannabis might relieve what ailed me. I was honestly taken aback when it worked so well and I was able to wean myself off every single pharmaceutical.




Happy ending, right? Not really.


Like many who wind up in court for cannabis, I was pulled over by a traffic cop. It happened on a desolate stretch of Interstate 5 in Southwest Washington. In what has become a recurring nightmare for cannabis consumers nationwide, the State Patrolman asserted that he “smelled a strong odor of marijuana.” The two joints I had were sealed in a glass jar, so it was more likely the peace sticker on my car, identifying me as a beatnik, that aroused the officer’s suspicion. Regardless, I knew better than to consent to his request for a search. In an instant, I was handcuffed and in the back of a patrol car, yelling out the window “you do not have permission to search my vehicle. I do not consent to the search you are performing right now.”


Reality quickly set in. My doctor’s recommendation from Oregon was no good here, even though I was just 50 miles north of Portland. My eyes zeroed in on the bumper sticker on the plexiglass in front of me that proudly proclaimed, “It’s Not JUST Marijuana” and featured a bright red no sign over a pot leaf. I then realized my vocal protests about the search were in vain. The officer obtained probable cause the moment he allegedly smelled cannabis. It would be his word against mine and a determined drug enforcer like him was bound to find my medicine. It was only a matter of time before I found myself in the Cowlitz County Jail with bail of $5,000, payable only in cash. I was facing a felony for Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, a charging decision left up to the discretion of individual officers. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, I was cancelling my East Coast vacation and using the funds to bail myself out, literally and figuratively.


Since then, my priorities have shifted greatly. I have become increasingly active in the medical cannabis, legalization and criminal justice reform movements. My life trajectory was forever altered by the horrific death of Richard Flor, Montana’s first registered cannabis caregiver. 68 years old and incredibly ill, Richard died from the neglect he experienced while serving a five-year prison sentence. His widow, Sherry, remains imprisoned even after her husband’s tragic death. The once-happily-married couple of 37 years were named co-conspirators in a federal indictment. The last four months of Richard’s life, they were not only imprisoned apart from one another – separated for the first time in their marriage – but they needed special permission from each of their wardens to communicate just by mail. That permission never came. Instead, Sherry’s final words to her husband were in a call to her daughter, Kristin, who stood helpless over her father’s comatose body, as he lay shackled to a hospital bed. The U.S. Government got its pound of flesh from the Flors, but that wasn’t punishment enough.


Two of Richard’s business partners and two other employees were also indicted.  A third business partner accepted a plea bargain that spared him from indictment, but required “significant cooperation” with investigators. One of the co-owners, Chris Williams, courageously took his case to trial. Watching firsthand as Chris’s nightmare unfolded in federal court, my resolve was cemented. I could not rest until the whole world knew what was happening in America’s so-called justice system.


Soon after, I left my Legislative career to work with the November Coalition. Founder Nora Callahan and her husband, Chuck Armsbury, are also casualties of the War on Drugs through separate but equally absurd tales of conspiracy, drugs and guns. Then, just this month, I met another inspiring victim of cannabis prohibition. Jacob Shepherd was four years old when he watched as law enforcement agents gunned down his father in a deadly standoff over a small backyard cannabis garden. His mother was hit by a stray bullet. As an impressionable young child, Jacob was whisked away from the scene in a police cruiser, covered in both of his parents’ blood. That was almost 20 years ago. When will the madness end?


I am incredibly appreciative of the kind-hearted sponsors who donated to the scholarship fund for ASA’s upcoming Unity Conference in Washington D.C.  Thanks to their assistance, I will be able to personally tell members of Congress about Richard, Sherry, Kristin, Chris, Nora, Chuck, Jacob and countless other stories of injustice. I will get to learn from world-renowned medical experts who have studied cannabis science in depth. I will get to meet other like-minded advocates from across the country, all because of the generosity of complete strangers! I am forever grateful for this amazing opportunity and plan to make the most of every second I have in the epicenter of democracy! Thank you again to Americans for Safe Access for hosting the conference and every supporter who has made this trip possible.