Pages tagged "new mexico"


Milestone Ruling: Insurance must pay for medical cannabis

New Mexico: Land of EnchantmentMany medical cannabis patients dream of a day when they can fill a prescription for their medicine at a pharmacy and have their insurance company pay for it. That last part – reimbursement for the cost of medical cannabis – just became a reality, at least for one New Mexico patient.

Gregory Vialpando, a Santa Fe car mechanic with a lower back injury sustained in 2000, uses medical cannabis to treat severe chronic pain his doctor describes as some of the worst he has ever seen. Mr. Vialpando was initially prescribed multiple narcotics and anti-depressants, but both his primary care provider and another doctor recommended medical cannabis, so he asked a state workers’ compensation judge to approve it in 2013.

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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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New Mexico Advocacy

ASA relies on the strength of our grassroots activists to fight for medical cannabis at the local and state levels. The best way for new advocates to get involved is by joining or starting a chapter to work on local issues. If there are not any local resources near to you, consider starting your own official ASA Chapter or Action Group! 


Wake Up Obama: Cannabis Patients Vote!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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