Pages tagged "pm-ok"

  • Cannabis Tincture, Salve, Butter and Oil Recipes

    The following recipes come from the Vancouver Island Compassion Society (thevics.com). Please note that not all state medical cannabis laws allow for cannabis concentrates. Where they do not, manufacture or possession of these substances usually carries serious penalties.  Be sure to check the legal guidelines for your state.

    VICS Cannamist/Tincture

    Recipe and Instructions on How to Convert THCA Into THC

    A tincture is an alcohol-based solution of a non-volatile medicine (in this case cannabis). In a cannabis tincture, alcohol is not only the solvent used to separate cannabinoids from the plant matter, it is what makes this type of application (particularly in fine-mist form) more bio-available and therefore effective.

    In whole-plant cannabis, THC content is expressed as THCA (tetrahydrocannabolic acid) prior to decarboxilation into THC, which takes place when cannabis is heated during cooking, smoking or vaporized ingestion. THCA is a mild analgesic and anti-inflammatory but in order to make a THC-rich tincture that has many of the same therapeutic effects as smoked ingestion (including rapid absorption, quick relief and ease of self-titration), we must convert the THCA in the plant matter into THC prior to extracting it through an alcohol soak.

    Supplies

    1. Converted cannabis
    2. Alcohol (50% is preferred, but 40% vodka works just fine)
    3. Organic mint
    4. Organic honey
    5. Large mason jar, x 2
    6. Cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve

    Dry heat conversion of THCA into THC

    1.  Preheat oven to exactly 325°F (160°C). Use an oven thermometer to be sure.
    2.  Spread leaf or bud in a 1 inch (2.5 cm) layer on a clean cookie sheet.
    3.  Put in the oven until the first hint of smoke or 5 minutes, whichever is first; remove and transfer to a glass or ceramic container to cool.

    Tincture/Cannamist Recipe:

    1. Pack a mason jar loosely but completely with converted cannabis product.
    2. Add alcohol until the jar is full.
    3. Seal, shake and put in a dark, cool place.
    4. After week one, strain mixture through cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve and add to another mason jar packed with converted cannabis and a few sprigs of fresh organic mint.
    5. After week two, strain through cheesecloth or fine mesh into mason jar.
    6. Add organic honey to taste.
    7.  Shake/mix and then decant into bottles fitted with fine mist spray tops.

    Dosage

    Initial Dosage: Spray two times on the inside of the cheek, and wait 30 seconds before swallowing. Wait ten minutes. If desired effect has not been reached, repeat on the opposite cheek. Wait ten minutes.Repeat until desired effect is achieved. Dosage will vary between users, but should remain fairly constant once established.

    Effect will last for between 1-2 hours. Repeat use as needed. If you feel dizzy or disoriented, immediately discontinue use. Do not operate heavy machinery or drive during use of this product.

    The VICS Cannabis Oil Recipe

    Makes about 2 Liters of oil.

    Supplies

    1. 200 to 250 grams good quality organic cannabis shake (trim)
    2. Slow cooker
    3. Cheese cloth
    4. Silkscreen, min. 200+ thread count per inch
    5. 3 Liters Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    6. Colander or strainer

    Recipe

    1.  Put cannabis into slow cooker
    2.  Add olive oil until it just covers the cannabis.
    3.  Turn slow cooker to High for 2 hours, and then turn down to Low for an additional 4 to 6 hours, stirring occasionally.
    4. To make a stronger product, add fresh cannabis to the previously heated oil left in the slow cooker and top up oil to cover the cannabis; keep cooking on low heat overnight or up to two days.
    5.  Strain oil, as warm as possible, through cheese cloth, then strain through silkscreen. The oil is ready to use as is. It will keep for up to 3 months.
    6. Cannabis oil can be quite potent and have a very narcotic effect. It is recommended that you do not drive or perform difficult tasks after consumption.

    The VICS Salve Recipe

    This recipe yields roughly 525 ml of topical salve; vary ingredients proportionately for a smaller or larger batch.

    Supplies

    1. 400 ml Cannaoil (converted cannabis and olive oil - see our Cannaoil recipe)
    2. 40 grams shaved beeswax
    3. 45 drops lavender oil
    4. 30 drops mint oil
    5. 1/2 tsp. of honey

    Recipe

    1.  Combine Cannaoil and beeswax in a small crockpot, or a small double boiler; put on low heat, no higher than 150oF (65oC).
    2.  Stir constantly until all the beeswax is melted.
    3.  Add lavender and mint oil to the Cannaoil/beeswax. Stir to blend oils. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
    4.  Keeping the crockpot, or double boiler, on very low heat, pour the salve into container(s); stir the mix prior to pouring in order to maintain consistency.
    5.  Let salve cool completely before putting lid(s) on.
    6. Benefits: Fast skin absorption with minimal residual effect. Eases dry skin conditions. Provides mild pain relief for muscular and/or joint pain.

    The VICS Cannabutter Recipe

    Supplies

    1. Good quality organic cannabis (14 grams of bud or 76 grams of shake (trim) per 454 grams (1 lb.) of butter)
    2. 6 to 8 Litre (1.5 gallon) capacity boiling pot
    3. Fine mesh strainer, or colander, or large coffee filter, or nylon stockings
    4. Large refrigerator-safe pot

    Recipe

    1.  Fill a 6 to 8 litre pot with cold water and bring to boil.
    2.  Add butter and cannabis.
    3.  Mix.
    4.  Lower heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally (add water if necessary).
    5.  Strain out liquid into refrigerator-safe bowl using fine strainer, large coffee filter or nylon stocking. Squeeze butter out of remaining leaf (wear gloves, the leaf is hot!).
    6.  Discard strained leaf.
    7.  Let liquid cool, and then put into refrigerator overnight. Butter will separate from water and form a hard crust on surface of liquid.
    8.  Lift out butter crust and put into large mixing bowl. Cream and fold butter using a large metal or wooden spoon. Discard remaining liquid.

    Butter is ready to use as is. It will keep in freezer up to 3 months. When baking with cannabutter, select recipes such as cookies with short, low-heat cooking instructions (below 163 degrees C or 325 degrees F) At higher temperatures, the cannabinoids in the butter will break down and be lost while cooking.

    Products baked with cannabutter take effect within 30 to 90 minutes from initial ingestion and can last for several hours. For maximum effect, ingest on an empty stomach. Cannabutter can be quite potent and have a strong narcotic effect. It is recommended that you not drive or perform difficult tasks after ingesting.

     

  • Information on Cannabis Safety

    Cannabis and the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, both have an excellent safety profile. The Drug Awareness Warning Network Annual Report, published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), contains a statistical compilation of all drug deaths which occur in the United States. According to this report, there has never been a death recorded from the use of cannabis. Pharmacology expert and author Dr. Iverson explains the enormous doses that have been tested:

    Laboratory animals (rats, mice, dogs and monkeys) can tolerate doses of up to 1000mg/kg. This would be equivalent to a 70-kg person swallowing 70g of the drug-about 5,000 times more than is required to produce a high. Despite widespread illicit use of cannabis, there are very few if any instances of people dying from an overdose.

    DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young, in response to a petition to reschedule cannabis under federal law concluded in 1988 that, “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume.... Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within the supervised routine of medical care.”

    More than a decade later, Institute of Medicine investigators considered the physiological risks of using cannabis and concluded that “Marijuana is not a completely benign substance. It is a powerful drug with a variety of effects. However, except for the harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications.”

    Since the IOM report, research on the long-term effects of smoking cannabis that studied thousands of users over decades has shown that smoking moderate amounts of cannabis (equivalent to a joint a day) has no negative effects on lung function, even in those who have consumed more than 10,000 joints.

    Toxicity, Risk of Overdose

    Cannabis has an extraordinarily high estimated lethal dose, equivalent to smoking approximately 1,500 pounds in 15 minutes, a physical impossibility. Scientists have had to estimate the LD50, or Lethal Dose for 50% of the human population, because it has never been demonstrated. This puts cannabis in a class of its own, since even relatively safe medications such as aspirin have a lethal dose. Dr. Grinspoon had this to say in a 1995 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

    One of marihuana's greatest advantages as a medicine is its remarkable safety. It has little effect on major physiological functions. There is no known case of a lethal overdose; on the basis of animal models, the ratio of lethal to effective dose is estimated as 40,000 to 1. By comparison, the ratio is between 3 and 50 to 1 for secobarbital and between 4 and 10 to 1 for ethanol. Marihuana is also far less addictive and far less subject to abuse than many drugs now used as muscle relaxants, hypnotics, and analgesics. The chief legitimate concern is the effect of smoking on the lungs. Cannabis smoke carries even more tars and other particulate matter than tobacco smoke. But the amount smoked is much less, especially in medical use, and once marihuana is an openly recognized medicine, solutions may be found; ultimately a technology for the inhalation of cannabinoid vapors could be developed.

    That technology Dr. Grinspoon envisioned is now readily available in the form of vaporizing devices, manufactured by many companies. And, as mentioned previously, recent research on the rate of lung cancer and pulmonary diseases among even heavy cannabis smokers has revealed that they have no greater risk of lung cancer, obstructive pulmonary disease, or other adverse effects on pulmonary function than those who smoke nothing at all.

    However, cannabis should not be considered a harmless substance. Cannabis has a number of physiological effects, such as rapid heart rate and dilation of the blood vessels, that in limited cases could be hazardous, particularly for those with pre-existing cardiac conditions. These adverse effects are within the range tolerated for most FDA-approved medications, and tend to dissipate with continued use.

    As Dr. Grinspoon observes, “The greatest danger in medical use of marihuana is its illegality, which imposes much anxiety and expense on suffering people, forces them to bargain with illicit drug dealers, and exposes them to the threat of criminal prosecution.”

    The Acute Effects of Cannabis

    The acute, or short-term, effects of cannabis may begin when the drug is first taken, if it is inhaled, or within an hour or more if ingested as an edible. Effects can last between one and three hours, longer if taken as edibles. Individual response varies, depending upon both the individual, the situation in which it is taken, and whether cannabis is ingested or inhaled. Short-term effects from using herbal cannabis may include: coughing or wheezing if cannabis is inhaled, euphoria, dry mouth, reddening of the eyes, increased appetite, blurred vision, dizziness, headache, delayed motor reactions, sedation, and anxiety. Many of the psychoactive effects will decrease with prolonged use. In most cases, side effects are mild, well tolerated, and can be controlled with careful titration or dose management.

    In rare cases, usually as a result of consuming large doses of cannabis in food or drink, individuals may experience acute complications such as anxiety attacks, temporary psychosis, or convulsions. Referred to in medical literature as marijuana psychosis, it can be severe enough to compel admission to an emergency hospital.

    Effects of Prolonged Use of Cannabis

    Cannabis is a psychoactive drug, and legitimate concerns have been raised about the effects of prolonged use. Although cannabis remains a prohibited substance, tightly controlled even for medical research purposes, the FDA has approved synthetic derivatives of cannabis' psychoactive cannabinoid, THC, and classified them as Schedule III drugs with less likelihood of creating dependency than many other medications.

    In considering the consequences of cannabis use, the Institute of Medicine concluded in 1999 that these concerns fall into two categories: the effects of chronic smoking of cannabis and the effects of THC.

    Side Effects of Cannabis

    Based on thousands of years of use, anecdotal reports, and extensive research, we know that cannabis is one of the safest medicines: it is impossible to consume enough to produce a fatal toxic effect in the body. However, if you are unfamiliar with its use, you should familiarize yourself with the side effects prior to use so that you can use it effectively.

    Uneasiness

    Cannabis usually has a soothing and comforting effect on the mind, and many use it to manage anxiety. Sometimes, however, people can experience feelings of anxiety while using cannabis. If this happens to you, there are several things you can do. Try to stay in environments where you feel naturally comfortable. If you feel anxious, sit or lie down, breathe deeply, and relax. If you have loved ones with you, hold each other for a while. If you have a pet, hold or stroke it. Eating food will often quickly reduce the feeling of anxiety. Next time you use it, try reducing your dosage. Because of the social stigma related to getting high, you may have feelings of guilt. Understand that “high” or intoxicated feelings related to cannabis consumption are a side effect of using cannabis, much like the side effects of many other pharmaceutical drugs. Know that you have a right to your medicine.

    Hunger and Thirst

    Many patients use cannabis to stimulate appetite. If you are not using cannabis for this purpose, try to drink water or all-natural juices to avoid unnecessary weight gain. If you wish to eat, choose healthy and nourishing food rather than sweets.

    Redness in the Eyes

    Red eyes are a normal side effect related to cannabis use. It will not hurt you. If you feel insecure, or if you must go out in public and are concerned about others' reaction to the redness, try using eye drops like Visine or wearing sunglasses.

    Drowsiness

    If cannabis makes you sleepy, try scheduling your medicating around situations that require you to be alert. Taking a nap or relaxing may help you regain energy. As with all medicines that can produce drowsiness, don't drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how cannabis affects you.

    Sleeplessness

    If you find that you can't sleep for a while after using cannabis, try reducing your dosage or avoid medicating right before bed. If you need to medicate before going to bed, give yourself two hours or so before you normally sleep.

    Short-term Memory Loss

    Sometimes people have a hard time with recalling short term memories when using cannabis. Some people may find it difficult to carry on a complicated conversation, keep track of details, or perform complex tasks. If this happens to you, schedule complicated tasks and give yourself some leeway when medicating before-hand. These effects are limited to actively using cannabis.

    Feelings of Euphoria

    When you start medicating with cannabis, you may find that events or situations that wouldn't normally seem funny become quite amusing. This is a side effect most people enjoy, however if you must deal with situations where humor would be inappropriate, avoid medicating immediately before.

    Hazards of Smoking Cannabis

    Because cannabis smoke shares many of the same dangerous compounds found in tobacco smoke, concerns have been raised that smoking cannabis can lead to the same increased risk of lung cancer and other chronic respiratory diseases found in tobacco smokers. However, the research done to date indicates that the long term health consequences of cannabis smoking are considerably less serious, if not negligible.

    Population studies have found mild lung function changes in heavy cannabis smokers and long-term heavy use may generate symptoms of bronchitis, including wheezing, production of phlegm and chronic cough. More study is required to determine any causal relationship between smoked cannabis and the development of respiratory infections, but anyone needing large or frequent doses may benefit from choosing alternative delivery methods, especially if they smoke tobacco.

    While many have historically maintained that heavy cannabis smokers are at higher risk of contracting cancer, new research casts doubt on these claims. Studies at the cellular and molecular level have suggested that chemicals in smoked cannabis may cause cancer; however, new evidence indicates that cannabinoids themselves may decrease the cancer-causing effect of the carcinogens typically inhaled from smoking cannabis, preventing cancers from developing. That prophylactic effect makes cannabis smoke inherently less dangerous than tobacco smoke, even though they contain some similar chemicals.

    In 2006, the results of a five year, case-controlled investigation—the largest study of its kind—unexpectedly found that smoking cannabis, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer or other types of head, neck or throat cancers. Lead investigator Dr. Donald Tashkin, chief of pulmonary medicine at UCLA medical school, speculated on the basis of other research that cannabis may contain key components that regulate aging cells and keep them from becoming cancerous. Dr. Tashkin's findings reaffirm the results of prior case-control studies dismissing a causal link between cannabis use and certain types of lung and upper aerodigestive tract (UAT) cancers. Other studies have found significant differences between the health effects of cannabis and tobacco smoking. Even heavy smokers of cannabis do not have an increased rate of Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a common affliction for tobacco smokers, and the rate of head, neck and throat cancers, common problems for tobacco smokers, is considerably lower among moderate cannabis smokers than among those who smoke nothing at all.

    To avoid smoke inhalation, cannabis can be used with a vaporizer, orally in baked goods and other food products, in oral sprays, or in a suppository. No data exists suggesting that orally ingested cannabis may cause cancer.

    Effects on Cognition

    Cannabis use can temporarily impair cognition involving short-term memory, performance, attention and concentration among long-term heavy smokers. While some studies have suggested that deficits in attention and memory occur more often with heavy cannabis use, and that these deficits can extend beyond the period of intoxication, a 2003 meta-analysis of the 15 relevant studies on non-acute effects found that “there might be decrements in the ability to learn and remember new information in chronic users,” but “other cognitive abilities are unaffected.” The researchers note that, despite their expectations to the contrary, all studies done to date have “failed to demonstrate a substantial, systematic, and detrimental effect of cannabis use on neuropsychological performance.”

    Effects on psychomotor performance

    The most common types of psychomotor functions impaired by cannabis use include body sway, hand steadiness, a test of motor skill performance involving tracking a rotating target, driving and flying simulation, divided attention, sustained attention, and the digit-symbol substitution test, which involves remembering symbols arbitrarily matched to numbers. The effects are generally short-lived and do not appear to persist over the long-term, that is when not using cannabis. Research clearly indicates that cannabis use impairs psychomotor performance, and studies have shown that those unaccustomed to cannabis use are less able to compensate for its effects. With prolonged use, many people develop ways of compensating that mitigate the effects. No one using cannabis should drive or operate dangerous machinery if they feel intoxicated.

    Effects on the immune system

    The effects of cannabis use on the immune system are not yet fully understood. The discovery of CB-2 receptors in the various cell types of the immune system has excited interest in the interaction of cannabinoids and immune function. Several pharmaceutical companies have expressed interest in developing CB-2-selective drugs which might have utility as immunosuppressants, or in the treatment of arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders.

    People living with AIDS may experience opportunistic bacterial and fungal infections associated with exposure to pathogens from contaminated cannabis material, according to one study. Yet there is no evidence that the long-term use of cannabis renders users more susceptible to bacterial or additional viral infections. Recent studies have shown cannabis use has no adverse effect on immune function for people living with HIV/AIDS. A 2003 randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial demonstrated that cannabis did not affect HIV RNA levels, CD4+ and CD8+ cell counts, or protease inhibitor levels. In another randomized, placebo-controlled study, the administration of oral THC or smoked cannabis did not significantly alter pharmacokinetic properties of the protease inhibitors tested and had no effect on antiretroviral efficacy.

    In fact, as mentioned in the earlier section on HIV, a 2012 study found that cannabinoids can strengthen immune function. Researchers demonstrated CB2 activation has an anti-viral effect on CD4+ T cells, reducing cell-to-cell HIV infection up to 50%. The authors of that study suggest that the therapeutic use of cannabinoids may help fight the spread of the virus to uninfected T cells in late stages of HIV-1 infection. Other research has shown that cannabinoid drugs reduce viral load in an animal model of HIV.

  • Talking to Your Doctor About Medical Cannabis

    Medical_Professional_stock.jpgBe forthright. There is nothing wrong or illegal about discussing medical cannabis with your doctor. Federal courts have ruled that the First Amendment protects doctors in discussing medical cannabis and recommending it to their patients. Doctors are accustomed to patients bringing ideas to them about treatment options and preferences, and cannabis therapeutics should be no different.

    Your doctor may be unfamiliar with medical cannabis and hesitant to recommend it, so bring documentation to explain the science and support your experience. ASA has created a series of educational booklets for this very reason. Our Condition-based Booklets and other research can be found in the publications section of the website. Your doctor may not have an understanding of the local laws either. You may also consider bringing them relevant forms and website links for your state. These forms and resources are located in our "State by State: Recommending Cannabis" section for medical professionals.  

    A primary care physician with an understanding of your medical history is the best person to consult first about medical cannabis. However, we understand that not everyone has a regular doctor, and many physicians remain unfamiliar with the medical uses of cannabis or are afraid of getting in trouble. In addition, some patients are concerned with their current health insurance company finding out about their use of medical cannabis. For these and other reasons, many patients consult one of the many doctors with a specialty practice in medical cannabis. No matter what doctor you see, here are some pointers:

    Understand your state requirements and ask for a written recommendation. Bring copies of required paperwork for your state or a sample doctors recommendation from the Medical Professionals section of this website. 

    Be prepared to tell your doctor specifically what condition or symptoms you treat with cannabis therapeutics. If you have medical records related to the condition or symptoms, bring them. Honestly describe how long you've had the problem, when you began treating with cannabis, the amount of cannabis you use, how often, and by what delivery method.

    If your regular doctor will not issue a recommendation, you may choose to visit a physician who is a medical cannabis specialist.

    Finding a Doctor if You Don't Already Have One, or if Your Regular Doctor Will Not Issue a Recommendation

    There are a number of specialty physicians and clinics available for consultations in states with medical cannabis laws. Before seeing a medical cannabis specialist, patients should already have medical records of diagnosis and treatment or a physician referral. Be aware that:

    You should take your medical records with you to the appointment.

    It generally costs $100 or more to see a medical cannabis specialist. (Paying for a consultation does not guarantee you a recommendation.)

    Time with the doctor and quality of care can vary among medical cannabis specialists.

  • Cannabis in Painful HIV-Associated Sensory Neuropathy

  • Database of Clinical Research and Case Reports

  • ASA Leadership

    Office of the Executive Director

    Steph Sherer, Founder

    email: [email protected] 
    phone: (202) 857-4272 

    Steph Sherer is founder and President of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), 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.

    Her direct experience with the medical benefits of cannabis and her political organizing background led Steph to form ASA in 2002 with the purpose of building a strong grassroots movement to protect patients and their rights. As a powerful advocate, a skilled spokesperson, and an energetic initiator of campaigns, Steph has trained over 100,000 individuals across the country on civic engagement.

    Steph has become the foremost international leader and expert on medical cannabis patient advocacy and, alongside American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), has created the first industry standards in the areas of distribution, cultivation, analytics, and manufacturing, packaging and labeling.

     

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    Debbie Churgai, Executive Director

    email: [email protected]
    phone: 
    (202) 618-6973

    As the Executive Director, Debbie manages all day-to-day aspects of the organization, including ASA's Patient Focused Certification (PFC) and Cannabis Care Certification (CCC) programs. She has served as a writer, editor, and reviewer on many ASA publications including the Cannabis and Cannabis Resin Critical Review Document that was sent to the United Nations. Debbie first entered into the medical cannabis field by helping a company write their State license applications for cultivating and manufacturing medical cannabis. She worked in conjunction with horticulturists, physicians, and patient advocates and learned a great deal about the industry. She joined ASA in February of 2016 as the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director, Steph Sherer and quickly worked her way up to managing programs. Her previous work experience was in the Behavioral and Public Health fields working on projects in tobacco regulation and substance abuse prevention and treatment. She holds a Master’s degree in Psychology.

    Operations

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    Geoffrey Marshall, Operations Manager

    email: [email protected]
    phone: (202) 618-6971

    Geoffrey Marshall joined Americans For Safe Access as the Office and Membership assistant in 2015. He brings a dedication to organization and efficiency to the role, where he works to facilitate the organization’s operations and workflows. A graduate of The College of Idaho, Geoffrey’s background has largely focused in the world of non-profit development including time at the Marijuana Policy Project. His own experience with medicinal marijuana (beside the myriad of policy arguments) prompted his work with drug policy reform and cannabis legalization.

     

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    William Dolphin, Publications

    email: [email protected]

    William Dolphin is responsible for ASA's newsletters and other print publications, such as the booklets on treating specific conditions, state legal manuals, and activist training materials. He has been part of ASA's communications team since 2002, following a media relations campaign for Ed Rosenthal's landmark federal trial that generated coverage by the New York Times and major networks. William is a widely published author and editor and has taught at San Francisco State University, Rhodes College, and UC Berkeley. He is currently on the faculty at University of Redlands and is the co-author of The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma, and the Patient Experience (Routledge), the first comprehensive study of what it means to participate in a state medical cannabis program.

     

    Paul Marini, Technical Director

    email: [email protected]
    [email protected]

    Paul has been with ASA since its inception, serving in a myriad of roles. He is happy to bring the logistical expertise he learned in the anti-globlization movement to bear to keep things running smoothly at ASA.

     

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    Benjamin Morrison, Senior IT Consultant 

    email: [email protected] 

    Benjamin Morrison specializes in nonprofit online infrastructure, including modern web design standards, mobile design optimization, online fundraising and online/social media marketing strategy. Formally trained in art history, ceramic arts and ceramic chemistry, Benjamin branched out into web design on the Nationbuilder and Modx platforms in 2009. Former clients include retail businesses, charitable nonprofits, non-partisan political nonprofits, and educational organizations nationwide.

    His philosophy in web design is encompassed very well by his company’s slogan “Getting People Involved & Keeping People Involved." 

    Program Staff

    Picture of Dustin Mcdonald

    Dustin McDonald, Interim Policy Director

    email: [email protected]
    phone: (202) 618-6975

    Leading ASA’s policy work is Dustin McDonald, a freelance policy, government relations and public affairs expert with over 20 years of experience in advocacy. Prior to this work, Dustin spent nearly three and a half years at Weedmaps where he built and managed a 20-person international policy and government relations team, and guided associated federal, state, local and international government engagements on cannabis policy issues. Dustin joined Weedmaps in 2016 after serving for three and a half years as the Director of the Government Finance Officers Association’s (GFOA) Federal Liaison Center, where he led advocacy on municipal finance issues for a coalition of state, county and city government associations. At GFOA Dustin also served as lead staff on the GFOA’s Committee on Governmental Debt Management, working with committee members to develop best practices that promote sound financial practices for state and local governments.

    Prior to his work with GFOA Dustin spent 10 years providing direct federal advocacy services to local governments and local government agencies from across the U.S., working as a member of Holland & Knight’s Public Policy and Regulation Group, as well as the government relations practice of MARC Associates. In this role, Dustin led successful advocacy campaigns on a diverse group of issues, including municipal finance and tax reform, multi-modal transportation and related infrastructure, housing and economic development, water and wastewater infrastructure improvements, telecommunications reform, public safety and manufacturing.

    Before entering the private sector, Dustin served as staff in the Washington, DC office of a member of the California congressional delegation.

     

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    Don Duncan, California Director

    email: [email protected]
    phone: (202) 857-4272

    Don Duncan has served on the Board of Directors since he co-founded American for Safe Access in 2002. As California Director, he is coordinating the grassroots and grasstops campaign to fully implement the states medical cannabis laws, respond to federal interference, and build a broader and more powerful coalition for medical cannabis in California. Mr. Duncan was instrumental in galvanizing grassroots resistance to federal raids and in seeding local self-regulatory alliances for medical cannabis providers statewide. He has worked closely with elected officials, law enforcement, collective operators, and community members in local implementation efforts in several California cities and counties, and is currently working with lawmakers in Sacramento to adopt legislation to expand rights for patients.

    Mr. Duncan co-founded one of the oldest and most reputable families of medical cannabis dispensing collectives in California, helping to open legal facilities in Berkeley, West Hollywood, and Los Angeles. He is a leading consultant in the field of medical cannabis and has been featured in major media coverage, including 60 Minutes, Dan Rather Reports, Retirement Living TV, and the Los Angeles Times.

     

    reenal-headshot.jpgReenal Doshi, Director of Outreach and Communications

    email: [email protected]
    phone: 
    (202) 618-6972

    Reenal Doshi has 15 years of experience in health policy and communications at the international, federal, state, and nonprofit levels. She holds a Master of Public Health degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in Community and Public Health. She worked for several members of Congress for five years on Capitol Hill in legislative, press, and caseworker positions. She also worked in the government relations department of a health advocacy organization for five years where she tracked federal legislation, performed outreach, helped organize Congressional events, and met with members of Congress and their staff. 

    As a health fellow for the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, Reenal carried out research and created communications materials for the United Nations. Reenal also served as a delegate for the health sector at the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa, where she helped write a position paper that was read at the UN General Assembly.

    Most recently, she worked in the office of policy and compliance for the State of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

     

    Patient Focused Certification

    Heather Despres, M.Sc., PFC Director

    email: [email protected]

    phone: (707) 921-5255

    Heather Despres, M.Sc. is serving as the Director of the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program. Her prior experience in cannabis testing laboratories, as well as environmental and pharmaceutical labs, brings with it years of working to ensure that the products made for medical marijuana patients is safe. Heather has degrees in chemistry and bio-molecular science from Clarkson University as well as a Master’s in Chemistry from the University of Colorado at Denver. She has recently relocated to California with her family and is looking forward to continuing to grow the Patient Focused Certification Program.