Pages tagged "Referendum"


How will you make safe and legal access to medical cannabis a reality in your community

California law now requires that applicants for a state medical cannabis license also obtain a license, permit, or authorization from the city or county in which they operate or propose to operate. While some cities and counties already allow for medical cannabis activity, most have no rules or prohibit medical cannabis businesses outright. Patients and industry players who want to bring safe and legal access to communities where it is not already allowed will need a campaign plan.

A campaign plan is simply a plan to achieve a desired goal, including the steps you need to take, timelines, strategies, resources needed, and other details. Before you can make your campaign plan, you will need to know some basic information and choose one of several pathways to adopting (or repealing) a local ordinance. ASA recommends you gather the information you need to make a decision about the best pathway, and then discuss it with other local stakeholders before settling on a plan. This is important because you want other stakeholders to have input and buy into the plan. It is always best if all the stakeholders in a community are cooperating to create safe and legal access.

You cam learn many of the skills you need to do strategic planning, build coalitions, and organize public meetings in ASA’s online Medical Cannabis Advocates Training Center. This comprehensive resource for community organizers is free.

Follow the links below or to the right to explore preliminary questions, choosing a pathway, and writing a campaign plan.


LA advocates turn to the people to stop the ban

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and coalition partners in the City of Los Angeles will submit more than 50,000 signatures on Thursday calling for a voter referendum to overturn the city’s recent ban on patients’ cooperatives and collectives. It took less than three weeks to gather the signatures, and the number collected far exceeds the 27,485 valid signatures needed to trigger a citywide vote in March. This is a major victory for patients and grassroots advocates who vowed to stop the ban when the City Council adopted it on July 24. Congratulations to everyone who helped out!



The referendum comes just in time. The ban would have become effective on September 6, but the successful petition drive puts enforcement on hold until the City Council rescinds the ban or voters have a chance to decide in March of next year. ASA and our allies on the Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods hope the City Council will use the extra time to move forward with a motion by Council Members Paul Koretz and Dennis Zine to create a new ordinance that will allow for a smaller number of well-regulated patients’ associations in the city.

The City Council has been rattling sabers as the effective date of the ban approached. On August 22, the City Council approved a motion by Council Members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry instructing the Los Angeles Police Department to cooperate with the District Attorney (DA) and Drug Enforcement Administration in closing cooperatives and collectives. This would give the DA the chance to prosecute operators for felonies (as opposed to the misdemeanor specified in the ban), and raised the specter of federal prosecution. This week, the City Council referred to committee a new motion by Council Members Ed Reyes and Herb Wesson to divert funds from the City Attorney’s Community Redevelopment Agency budget to enforcement of the ordinance banning medical cannabis cooperatives and collectives.

The city’s rush to enforce is misguided. They can avoid more confusion, delay, and litigation by sitting back down at the table with stakeholders to hammer out a compromise ordinance that works for everyone. Patients and operators agree with the majority of Californians who support regulating and controlling medical cannabis. They just want a sincere effort from law makers and a realistic regulatory framework. The city failed on both front in 2010, when they approved an unworkable and byzantine regulatory scheme that even Council Members had trouble deciphering. The referendum gives new incentive to do a better job with the Koretz/Zine motion for sensible regulations. Let’s hope the City Council takes advantage of this opportunity, so the referendum campaign can be a victory for everyone.



Stakeholders who want to learn more about the referendum and what comes next in Los Angeles should keep an eye on ASA’s Access Southern California Discussion Forum and plan to attend the LA-ASA meeting on Saturday, September 15, at 1:00 PM in the Community Room (#152) at the West Hollywood Gateway Mall, 7100 Santa Monica Blvd. (at La Brea Ave.), West Hollywood, CA 90046.

ASA responds to LA City Attorney threats

The Los Angeles City attorney sent hundreds of letters last week threatening property owners who rent to medical cannabis patients’ cooperatives and collectives in the city. The letters tell property owners they may be subject to stiff penalties, including fines and jail time, because an ordinance passed by the City Council in July makes renting to a patients’ association a crime. Property owners are worried, and some are moving to force their tenants out. But Americans for Safe Access (ASA) Chief Council Joe Elford says the effort to intimidate property owners is premature and urges the City Attorney to wait.



In a letter to Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, Mr. Elford points out that the California Supreme Court will soon rule on several cases that could clarify how cities can regulate medical cannabis and if they can ban cooperatives and collectives. California’s Appellate Courts disagree on these topics, so moving forward without instructions from the Supreme Court could be risky:
"Proceeding with enforcement of the ordinance while these issues are pending is premature and may subject you to a legal response."

Mr. Elford also points out that a voter referendum sponsored by the Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods, of which ASA is a part, may soon render the ordinance banning cooperatives and collectives and criminalizing property owners moot:
"… there is underway a voter referendum campaign to repeal Ordinance 182190, which is likely to have the signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot in less than two weeks. Because Ordinance No. 182190 will become ineffective once the signatures have been certified by the City Clerk, it would be a waste of the City’s time and resources to implement the Ordinance."

Patients who operate medical cannabis cooperatives and collectives should share Mr. Elford’s letter with their property owners to let them know that the ordinance making them criminals is not here to stay. Patients and advocates are going to repeal the misguided ordinance and keep working to adopt sensible regulations.

LA patients move to stop the ban



The Los Angeles City Council voted to ban medical cannabis patients’ cooperatives and collectives on July 24. Now patients are taking the case for safe access to the streets with a voter referendum to repeal the ban. If we gather 27,485 signatures from registered voters in the next thirty days, the City Council will be forced to choose between repealing the ban themselves and calling a costly special election for voters to decide. Paid and volunteer signature gatherers will be on the streets this week. City Council Members will soon learn if there is enough grassroots support for safe access to force their hand. Patients and advocates are betting there is.



Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s leading medical cannabis patients’ advocacy organization, helped organize the voter referendum and is committed to its success because the ban is bad for patients. The large majority of legal medical cannabis patients in Los Angeles rely on cooperatives and collectives for safe and reliable access to the doctor-recommended medicine they need to treat the symptoms of cancer, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain and other serious conditions. Closing the facilities means patients will do without their medicine or buy it from the dangerous and unregulated illicit market. That is not what voters intended when they approved Proposition 215 in 1996, and it is contrary to polling that shows that 77% of Californians still support regulation and control of medical cannabis.

City Council Members made a commitment to regulation in 2008, but controversy and political conflict stymied their efforts. Conflicting decisions for the California Appellate Courts have confused the issue, and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has consistently touted a ban only viable option. But City Council Members do have a choice. On the same day they approved the ban, the City Council also approved a motion by Council Members Paul Koretz and Dennis Zine asking the City Attorney to create a new ordinance tightly regulating a smaller number of facilities. The City Council would do well to expedite that effort instead of trying to enforce the ill-conceived ban.

It is not acceptable to close all of the patients’ associations in the city just because some are located or operated in a manner that is problematic. Instead, the City Council should work with stakeholders to develop workable regulations. Research shows that cooperatives and collectives do not cause crime. In fact, research conducted by ASA shows that sensible regulations actually reduce crime and complaints around access points. Los Angeles can join more than fifty other cities and counties in finding a way to protect patients’ access and neighborhoods – if they have the political will to do it. Let’s hope a successful referendum and vote to repeal the ban is just what they need to make it happen.

ASA is joined on the Committee to Protect Patients and Neighborhoods, the referendum’s campaign committee, by representatives from the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance (GLACA), which represents some of the city’s oldest and most reputable patients’ associations, and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770, which represents workers in local cooperatives and collectives.

Please join me on a conference call to discuss the referendum campaign and how you can help on Monday, August 13, at 6:00 PM.  Call (832) 431-3335 and dial 1618568 to join the conversation.

Make plans to join the Los Angeles ASA chapter on Saturday, August 18, to get the latest updates on the referendum and the ongoing effort to adopt a good ordinance in Los Angeles. The LA-ASA meeting is between 1:00 and 3:00 PM in the Community Room (#152) at the West Hollywood Gateway Mall located at 7100 Santa Monica Blvd. (at La Brea Ave.) in West Hollywood, CA 90046.

MT Patient Advocates Put Repeal of Medical Marijuana Restrictions on Ballot for 2012



Patient advocates in Montana, including members of Americans for Safe Access, were successful this week in gathering enough signatures to overturn SB423, an extremely restrictive medical cannabis bill that took away many of the patients’ rights enshrined in Initiative 148, passed by 62 percent of voters in 2004. Since its passage last session, SB423 has threatened to reduce the number of patients who can qualify for protection under the state law by 90 percent. It also eliminated virtually all access to localized distribution, forcing thousands of patients into the illicit market.



Although a lawsuit was partially successful in rolling back some of the restrictions imposed by SB423, it was unable to nullify the entire bill. Not wanting to rely completely on the courts, patient advocates began a signature drive to put the legislation on the ballot.

It is now up to the voters to reject the onerous provisions of SB423 in its entirety in order to pave the way for more sensible regulation and reform.  Local activist and medical cannabis attorney, Chris Lindsey, commented on the progress made by the reformation committee stating that:
We had a voter-approved law that was repealed by our state's politicians. When they were unable to come up with a complete ban, they cooked up a law that punishes people who wanted to participate in the medical marijuana program. The current law does not protect patents and those who provide to them. What we need is smart regulation, not a punitive law that works against the rights of Montana citizens.

Lindsey speaks on behalf of thousands of patients whose access has been seriously compromised with the passage of SB423, and who agree that smart regulation is needed to resurrect safe and legal access to their medication.

Placing this issue on the ballot is a great step in the right direction, and will hopefully restore the rights of Montana patients established under Initiative 148.  However, the work is far from over.  Our opposition has made it clear that the scope of Initiative 148 is too broad, and now it is up to the patient community in Montana to educate the greater public on why SB423 is not the “regulatory” answer.