Pages tagged "regulation"

California fiscal committees stop a bad DUID bill, but advance medical cannabis taxation

Lobby Day Community PhotoMedical cannabis patients and other stakeholders in California scored victories and suffered defeats in the state legislature today. The Appropriations Committees in the Assembly and Senate decided the fate of hundreds of bills today in their biannual “suspense hearings” – including important bills related to medical cannabis licensing, taxation, and patients’ rights.

The committee votes come just four days after more than one hundred and fifty medical cannabis patients and caregivers gathered in Sacramento to talk face-to-face with lawmakers and staff about medical cannabis bills. Participants in the California Citizen Lobby Day took more than 200 meetings with lawmakers and staff – including members who cast votes in today’s suspense hearings. 

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Make a difference for medical cannabis in California

Lobby Day Banner 2016Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is hosting our annual California Citizen Lobby Day on Monday, May 23rd, in Sacramento. This is your chance to talk face-to-face with lawmakers and staff about medical cannabis issues that affect you and your loved ones –

  • Discrimination in employment, housing, access to health care, and more
  • Bills that will turn legal patients into criminals for driving, even if they are not impaired
  • Excessive taxation on medical cannabis use and cultivation – including an additional 15% tax on medicine
  • Proposed changes to the state’s new commercial licensing program

If medical cannabis is important to you, register today for the California Citizen Lobby Day on May 23rdASA will make appointments for you at your Assembly and Senate offices when you sign up.

Why does it matter? I am going to be talking a lot more about that in a live Google Hangout entitled “Medicine for Real” at 8:00 PM PT on Monday, May 9. Log into Google+ a little before 8:00 PM on Monday to join the interactive broadcast, or watch live on YouTube.

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Lori Ajax, Chief of the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, will speak at the morning session

It’s time to get registered for the biggest medical cannabis lobby day in California! ASA will host our 5th annual California Citizen Lobby Day in Sacramento on Monday, May 23. This is your chance to join 300 other patients and advocates to talk face-to-face with lawmakers and regulators about medical cannabis in California.

Click here to register for the California Citizen Lobby Day on Monday, May 23, and ASA will make an appointment for you at your State Assembly and Senate offices.

We are excited to announce some very special guest speakers from the new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation this year. Chief Lori Ajax and Senior Policy Advisor An-Chi Tsou will be at our morning briefing to talk about the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) and what comes next for commercial medical cannabis regulation in the state.

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Preparing for success in fundraising

There are a few logistics you should consider at the beginning of your fundraising effort. These will help you be a better fundraiser and avoid some common pitfalls. 

  1. Get some professional advice on what legal requirements there are for fundraisers and organizers, especially if you are creating a Political Action Committee (PAC) or other organization for your campaign. ASA can help local chapters manage these issues.
  2. Set up a bookkeeping system and diligently track all income and expenses. You probably need this information for state and federal reporting purposes at some point. It is also important that donors and potential donor are confident that your effort or organization is transparent and credible.
  3. Be sure to provide a receipt and a thank you note to every donor, no matter how much they give. This makes donors feel good about their contribution, which means they are more likely to give again!
  4. Prepare some printed materials for your campaign in advance. Potential donors may want to see a brochure, campaign plan, talking points, web site, language of your proposed ordinance or initiative, etc. Be sure you materials look professional and are accurate. This enhances your credibility. Be careful not to overwhelm donors with too much material. You do not want to give them more than they are going to read.

Other fundraising tips:

  1. Do not be intimidated to ask for money to support your campaign. You are giving donors a chance to participate in and support a cause in which they believe. That is a great service to provide!
  2. Do not be put off if a donor says he or she cannot afford to contribute. People have different ideas about what is affordable or appropriate to donate. If a donor cannot or will not give the amount you request, ask him or her what they can do and let them decide an amount.
  3. Focus on opportunity instead of needs. Let the donor know that supporting your campaign is an opportunity to accomplish something – help patients, build an industry, protect the community, etc. Some donors do not respond well to a pitch based on the campaign’s needs – i.e. the rent is due, we are short on funds, etc.
  4. Ask for money face to face whenever possible. It is easier to say no to an email, letter, or phone call.
  5. Ask larger donors to consider a matching funds arrangement. This is a scenario where a larger donor will match the contributions of smaller donors up to a certain point. Many large donors like matching funds arrangements, because they feel good about encouraging others to join them in supporting the cause. Smaller donors like matching funds efforts because they feel good about doubling the impact of their gift. 

Motives for and objections to making donations

Donors have numerous motives for giving, and just as many reasons why they do not. You may not know every donor’s motives or objections, but it pays to be aware of the most common reasons people do and do not give. As you gain more experience in fundraising, you will be better at speaking to motives and overcoming objections.

Why Donors Give

  • They believe in the cause for which you are raising money. Never forget or under estimate someone’s belief in what you are doing. It should be at the forefront of any request for funding.
  • They have confidence that you can achieve to goals of the campaign. A successful fundraiser can convince donors that he or she can actually accomplish the goals of the campaign. Your credibly matters. That is one reason that a good campaign plan is necessary.
  • They believe their support makes a difference in the campaign. No one wants to donate if it does make a difference. You must assure donors that every contribution helps get you to the final goal.
  • They have a personal loyalty to you or your organization. Your friends and loved ones may give because they want to support you personally. That is a 100% legitimate motive for support.
  • They expect to receive some personal benefit from the success of your efforts. Some business donors will support an effort to adopt an ordinance or pass a voter initiative because they expect to benefit financially from the industry that is allowed. That is OK, so long is everyone is transparent and up front. However, it is not OK to cater your campaign to the financial interests of donors. Remember that money should follow the campaign. The campaign should not follow money.
  • They take pride in being seen as someone who supports your campaign. Some donors give because they want to be recognized. Be sure those donors get some public acknowledgment for helping. Many campaigns list donors online or elsewhere.

Why Donors Do Not Give

  • They do not support the goals of the campaign. No one is going to give money to support a campaign if they are opposed to its goals. Do not waste time and energy trying to convert opponents. Move on to more fertile ground.
  • They perceive that they cannot afford to donate. Everyone have a different idea of how rich or poor they are. All you can do is ask for support and let them decide. If someone objects to an amount for which you ask, try asking them for an amount that works for them.
  • They do not believe their support actually matters to the campaign. Donors do not like to give money unless it matters. If they think their support will not make a real difference, they may not give.
  • They do not think the campaign plan will work. Donors usually will not give if they do not think the campaign will succeed. Your campaign plan should address this issue. Do not let donors see you as a lost cause.
  • The do not trust or like the fundraiser or the organization. Your credibility matters. If someone doesn’t like or trust you, you are unlikely to get their financial support. In some cases, you might be able to correct a misperception with a personal phone call or visit. However, do not spend a lot of time and energy trying to settle misunderstandings. Unless there is a significant amount of money on the line, you are better off looking for other donors.
  • They have conflicting loyalties. Some donors already support other causes and organizations. They might see your campaign as one that conflicts with those causes or organizations, or they might see you as competing for scare funds with efforts to which they are committed. Try to explain to these donors how your effort compliments other campaigns or organization, if that is the case. You may also want to explain why your effort should be a priority right now. Never denigrate the cause or organization to which a donor is committed. This will only burn bridges.
  • They do not believe that the campaign will meet their expectations of personal benefit. Some donors will not support an effort unless they can benefit from it. This is an unfortunate reality in fundraising. You might be able to identify a tangible or intangible benefit for these donors, but it is probably wise not to waste too much time trying to persuade them.
  • They have certain criteria or requirements for donation, which the campaign does not meet. Institutional donors usually have specific criteria for making grants or contributions. These might include tax-exempt status, organizational structure/leadership, areas of interests, and more. It is unlikely that you will persuade an institutional donor to change their policies on making grants – although it cannot hurt to ask! 

Whom to Ask

Whom should you ask for money to support your campaign? The simplest answer is everyone. You never know who will and will not donate, so cast a wide net. In the “Why People Give” section of this website, we discuss motives for giving and reasons why people do not give. It is a good idea to consider how those motives and objections might apply to each of the potential donors listed below.

There are many different ways to ask for money. You can send emails, write letters, make phone calls, or use social media. Each of these will reach a certain segment of the potential donors. The most effective way to raise money, however, is face to face. Be sure to include individual and group meetings with potential donors in your fundraising effort. These face-to-face meetings happen in homes, offices, coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. Remember that is usually easier for a donor to say yes in person!

Some potential donors include:

  • Yourself – Individual community organizers are usually the first to give money to their efforts. You will probably spend some of your own money on materials and transportation costs when you start a fundraising effort. However, you should also be willing to contribute the largest amount of money you can afford to the effort. It matters to donors if you put your money where your mouth is. It is always easier to ask others to join you in supporting the campaign.
  • Friends and Family – You already know your initial donors. Your friends and family who support the effort to adopt an ordinance or initiative should be the first people you ask. They trust you and want to help you succeed. Do not feel awkward about this. Just like other donors, you are offering them an opportunity to support work they cannot or will not do themselves.
  • Other Supporters – You probably know other community members who share your desire to create safe and legal access in your community. Get them involved by asking for their support and participation. Look for organizations that work on medical cannabis issues to find new supporters in your area.
  • Your Broader Social Network – After friends, loved ones, and other supporters, it is time to tap into your broader social network. Co-workers, friends of friends, church members, and social clubs are all good place to look for prospects. You may also have an online network of “friends” from whom you can seek support. Don’t be afraid to network and ask. Finding new support is part of fundraising.
  • “Angel Donors” – An Angel Donor is someone who provides a very large contribution to support your campaign. This could be a wealthy individual, business, or organization. If you have access to a potential Angel Donor, be sure to ask for support. Remember that most Angel Donors will want to see a good campaign plan, budget, and other materials. It is great to have one donor who provides most of your support, but do not put off other fundraising while you purse and Angel Donor. Most campaigns never find one.
  • Related Businesses – Medical cannabis businesses (existing and proposed) and other business that serve them have a direct financial interest in expanding local licensing. They should be natural candidates for supporting local ordinances and voter initiatives. There is no reason a campaign fundraiser cannot take money from industry. Just be transparent a clear about your goals. Remember that business donors can support your campaign. They should not control it.
  • Grantors – There are organizations that make grants for local advocacy work. You will need to do some digging to find grant making organizations that support ordinances and initiatives and have appropriate donor criteria for you. It might take a long time and a lot of writing to get grant money, so plan ahead.

There are also some other strategies you can use to raise money for your campaign:

  • Crowd Funding – There are numerous online platforms where you can raise money for a campaign by soliciting donations online. Crowd funding can be a useful tool for expanding your fundraising reach. As a general rule, crowd funding is best for soliciting small contributions from a large number of donors. Of course, you will have to promote your crowd funding effort to someone. Donors won’t automatically flock to your website.
  • Merchandise – In some cases, you can raise money by selling merchandise. This usually works best with promotional merchandise that is related to the campaign – i.e. t-shirts, stickers, buttons, etc. Some donors like to get something tangible in exchange for their contribution. In most cases, you will have invest money up front to buy the merchandise. You will also have to collect and pay sales tax. That means that you must apply for a Seller’s Permit from the California Board of Equalization.
  • Fundraising Events – You can host fundraising event to support your campaign. Concerts, athletic events, and house parties are all commonly used. Be careful about overhead costs, permitting requirements (especially if you are selling alcohol), and insurance if you are going to host fundraising events.
  • Raffles and Auctions – You can always hold a raffle or auction to raise money. Ideally, the merchandise would be donated by a supporter. The key to raising money with raffles and auctions is to widely promote them. The more participants you have, the more money you will raise.
  • Social Media – Many social media site now have fundraising options. You can use sites like FaceBook, Twiiter, Instrgram, SnapChat, Linkedin, and others to build your base of support and potential donors. Be careful to follow the Terms of Service and avoid “spamming” other users with unwanted or excessive solicitations. 

What to include in your medical cannabis ordinance plan

Now that you figured out the rules for medical cannabis in your community (if any) and decided on a pathway, it is time to make a campaign plan. Your plan can be detailed or simple. This will depend on your skills, available resources, and the size of your team. Purposes of the plan include: (1) clearly define your goal, (2) establish the steps you will take to get there, (3) identify the strategies and messages you will need to win, and (4) determine how much money and other resources you need. This information will be valuable to you and your team as the campaign unfolds. It will also be useful for potential donors, who want to know you have a solid plan before giving money.

Be sure to talk about your campaign plan with team members and other with experience in politics, if possible. You want to get as much information as possible to be sure you have the most effective plan. Do not be afraid to hear constructive criticism, differing viewpoints, etc. These can all help make you plan better. Be sure to check out the materials related to Strategic Planning, messaging, and being a spokesperson in the Medical Cannabis Advocates Training Center before completing your plan.

There is no set format for your campaign plan. In general, you should describe how you will address these key areas: 

  1. Define the goals and boundaries. Be very clear on exactly what you hope to accomplish. You should also decide up front if there are campaign “boundaries.” Campaign boundaries are basic goals you will not give up or provisions you will not accept. For example, a boundary could be that whatever ordinance is adopted must protect the right of individual patients to grow there own medicine. If you are setting boundaries with a team, ASA suggests discussing values and large-scale goals before setting boundaries.
  2. Decide what concrete steps you must take and when. Adopting ordinances, voter initiatives, and referenda all involve specific legal steps and deadlines. Your city and county can provide you with this information. Get the deadlines on a calendar to make sure you file forms, send letters, submit petitions, etc. on time. Make a list of tasks that need to be accomplished, who is going to do each task, and by when. Some tasks include:
    1. Filing official paper work
    2. Writing letters to elected officials
    3. Writing op-eds for the news paper
    4. Retuning calls and opening mail
    5. Attending meetings
    6. Setting up a webpage
    7. And much more…
  3. Decide to whom you need to speak and make a plan to do it. If you are passing an ordinance, you need to get materials to elected officials and follow up with a meeting. If you working on a voter initiative, you need to be finding ways to talk with likely voters. Almost every campaign needs to talk to local media about what you are trying to do and why.
  4. Decide on winning “messaging” and stick to it. Messaging refers to the facts, sound bites, anecdotes, etc. that you will use to talk to elected officials, voters, the media, opponents, or others. Remember that your messaging should reinforce why the new ordinance should be adopted. Do not include opponents’ arguments in your messaging (but be prepared to respond to likely objections if they come up). A campaigns messaging is sometimes provided to supporters in the form of printed talking points or fact sheets. Keep these short and simple.
  5. Make a budget and a fundraising plan. Politics is not free, even at the grassroots level. A simple campaign will need a webpage, flyers, printing, telephones, and more. A more complicated campaign might need an office, staff, and professional help. Budgeting can be tedious, but it is important to know what you need. Do not forget to include goods or services donated to your campaign (“in-kind” donations) in the budget. This includes volunteer time. You will need to decide (and possibly show donors) where you plan to get the money and other resources you will need. Look at the Fundraising section of this website for more on that topic.
  6. Think about getting professional help. There are thousands of lobbyists, consultants, lawyers, and campaign managers in California who can help plan and execute your campaign. A few work for free, but most get paid. This can be a good option for campaigns launched by inexperienced organizers, assuming funds are available. If you decide to hire a professional to run your campaign, be sure it is clear whose vision is shaping the effort and who has final say. ASA recommends that campaign organizers take care in selecting a professional who is appropriate for the campaign. The right professional will probably have a proven track record in or near your community, verifiable references, and a clear and written scope of services (so you know exactly what you are paying for).

There may be other topics you need to include in your campaign plan. Take the time to sit down and develop this plan. Talk it over with others. Be flexible. A good plan will make you job easier and success more likely. 

How can you adopt a new ordinance in your city or county?

There are three primary pathways to adopting a new medical cannabis licensing ordinance in a city or county: 

  1. Lobby the City Council or County Board of Supervisors to adopt a new ordinance that licenses commercial medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, sales, and testing. If your jurisdiction already bans some or all medical cannabis activity, you will also need to lobby them to repeal the ordinance that bans this activity. They can do both things in a single new ordinance. You can follow the steps and strategies in your campaign plan, and use the skills you learn in the Medical Cannabis Advocates Training Center to encourage elected officials to adopt a new licensing and/or zoning ordinance.
  2. Pass a voter initiative to license or permit commercial medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, sales, and testing in your city or county. Every city and county in California allows a registered voter in the district to circulate a petition to place an ordinance on the local ballot for approval by the voters. If more than 50% of voters approve the imitative, it becomes law without the need for Council or Board approval. There are very specific rules and timelines for voter initiatives. You can follow the steps and strategies in your campaign plan, and use the skills you learn in the Medical Cannabis Advocates Training Center to launch a voter initiative campaign.
  3. Launch a voter referendum to repeal an ordinance banning medial cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, sales, and testing in your city or county. Registered voters in a city or county can circulate a petition calling for a vote of the people to repeal a law they don not like. If they gather enough signatures, the Council or Board must repeal the law or let voters decide. However, voters must file a referendum petition within a certain amount of time after the law they want to repeal becomes effective. As with voter initiatives, there are very specific rules and timelines for referenda. You can follow the steps and strategies in your campaign plan, and use the skills you learn in the Medical Cannabis Advocates Training Center to launch a voter referendum.





Best When

New Ordinance

  • Usually the least expensive and fastest path to a new law
  • Elected officials may not be willing to adopt a new law or repeal a ban;
  • You may have to make compromises to get the ordinance passed
  • Elected officials are motivated of willing to adopt a new law or repeal a ban

Voter Initiative

  • You can bypass unwilling elected officials and go directly to voters;
  • You control the content of the ordinance
  • This can be a lengthy and expensive process; You will probably have opposition at the polls
  • Elected officials are unwilling to pass a new ordinance or repeal a ban, but voters are likely to support you

Voter Referendum

  • You can stop a recently adopted ban and force the elected officials back to negotiations
  • This tactic can only be used within specified time frames;
  • You might fail
  • A new ban has just been adopted, and voters are likely to oppose it.

What you need to know before getting started

These are some questions you need to answer before deciding on the most appropriate pathway to a new ordinance in your city or county:

  1. Are you in a city or on county land? The rules about opening any kind of business will be set by the City Council, if you want to open inside the city limits. The rules about opening any kind of business in the unincorporated areas of the county will be set by the County Board of Supervisors. The unincorporated areas are those in any given county located outside the borders of any city.  Check online or contact the County Clerk’s office if you are unsure whether or not you are inside a city or in the unincorporated areas of the county.
  2. What are the rules for medical cannabis in your community? Most cities and counties now have the municipal code, county code, and zoning ordinances online. Locate these through the jurisdictions website and search for the term “medical marijuana” (local ordinances rarely use the term “cannabis). If your city or county does not have this information online, contact the City Clerk or County Clerk to ask where you can find any laws related to medical cannabis businesses. 
  3. If your city or county has a ban on some or all medical cannabis businesses, when did it become effective? This matters if you want to overturn the ban using a referendum, as described in Pathways to a New Ordinance. 

Knowledge you need to bring safe and legal access to your community

The resources on this page are designed to help you educate yourself, local lawmakers, voters, and other stakeholders about the best practices in regulating commercial medical cannabis activity. You will find model legislation for cities and counties, reports and research regarding medical cannabis and regulations, and links to innovative ASA programs that can help you succeed in bringing safe and legal access to your community.


Memo from ASA to Local Lawmakers Regarding the MMRSA, Local Licensing of Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivation, and Bans on Personal and Commercial Cultivation (PDF)

This 18-page memo discusses the MMRSA and how it affects local government. The memo argues against local bans on personal or commercial medical cannabis cultivation. The tables give detailed information about timelines, license types, and other provisions of the MMRSA. A copy of an open letter from Assembly Member Jim Wood is also attached (see below). Print this memo, along with the model cultivation ordinance below, to share with your City Council or Board of Supervisors. 


Letter from Assembly Member Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) Regarding the March 1, 2016 Deadline for Local Cultivation Ordinances (PDF) 

In this letter to local lawmakers, the author of AB 243 indicates that a March 1, 2016, deadline for cities and counties to adopt regulations (or ban) commercial medical cannabis cultivation was included in the MMRSA as a result of a drafting error. The author is already working with lawmakers and the Governor to correct the language. It is very important to share this letter with your City Council or Board of Supervisors. 


Model Ordinances

Sample Local Ordinance Licensing Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivation in Cities and Counties (HTML)

Sample Local Ordinance Licensing Commercial Medical Cannabis Cultivation in Cities and Counties (PDF)

New links are coming soon. Please check back!  


Talking Points 

Use these talking points to educate lawmakers, talk to media, and more. These basic facts and arguments are an important element to supporting your effort to adopt an ordinance or voter initiative. You can use these talking points verbatim, or use them as a starting point to write your own.  

New links are coming soon. Please check back!  


White Paper: Where Will Patients Obtain Their Medicine?

This white paper discusses the experience of local jurisdictions with medical cannabis dispensaries, with a focus on correcting the misperception that dispensaries cause crime.


Report: Medical Cannabis Dispensing Collectives and Local Regulation (California)

Updated in 2011, the report describes the positive outcomes of regulation in California cities and counties. ASA research shows that local officials and law enforcement report fewer crimes and complaints around well-regulated medical cannabis facilities.


Study: Prevalence of medical marijuana use in California, 2012

This report, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review in 2015, is the first representational survey of medical cannabis users in California. The results indicate that 1.4 million Californians have used medical cannabis, and 92% report from a serious medical condition. The report also indicates that medical cannabis is used by a variety of people in all ethnic, age, and gender groups. This can be an important tool in debunking common misperceptions about who uses medical cannabis and why. See the ASA blog for more.


American Herbal Products Association Guidelines for Regulators

Founded in 1982, AHPA is the oldest of the non-profit organizations that specializes in service to the herbal industry. It is the voice of the herbal products industry and the recognized leader in representing the botanical trade. With more than 300 members, AHPA’s membership represents the finest growers, processors, manufacturers, and marketers of botanical and herbal products. In 2010 AHPA established a Cannabis Committee tasked with the development of national  Recommendations to  Regulators that address sensible regulatory practices for hemp, cannabis, and cannabis-derived products. As such, the AHPA’s Cannabis Committee developed a series of Recommendations to Regulators, or guidelines, in the following four areas.


American Herbal Pharmacopeia’s Cannabis Monograph

Established in 1995, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) California- based organization with a mission to promote the responsible use of herbal products and herbal medicines. The AHP produces critically reviewed documents called monographs that outline the quality control criteria needed for ensuring the identity, purity, and quality of botanical raw materials.

Each monograph also presents a complete and critical review of the traditional and scientific literature regarding the efficacy and safety of herbal medicines and includes information on specific products such as tinctures and extracts. In 2011, the AHP began the development of a Cannabis Monograph and a Therapeutic Compendium for Cannabis. The first edition of the Cannabis Monograph was released in 2013 and provides scientifically valid standards for companies engaged in laboratory analysis of cannabis, cannabis-derived products and hemp products with regards to:

  1. Ensuring the identity, quality, purity, and potency of cannabis, cannabis-derived and hemp products;
  2. Reporting, analytic equipment calibration and method validation;
  3. And, ensuring product safety by identifying safe levels of pesticides, metals, and microbial limits. 


Medical Cannabis Advocates Training Center

ASA believes that good policy is created when those who are most affected are at the table. Just because you are medical cannabis patient or industry player, it doesn't mean that you automatically have a degree in public policy. ASA has always been committed to demystifying political systems and providing advocates the tools they need to participate in the processes in a meaningful way. Use this innovative and free online tool to learn all about grassroots organizing, citizen lobbying, media spokesperson training, and much more. These are skills you will need in your effort to pass an ordinance or a voter initiative.


Patient Focused Certification

Patient Focused Certification, PFC is an innovative new program that is calibrating the medical cannabis industry for excellence.  Comprehensive and flexible, PFC is what patients, healthcare providers, companies, and regulators can depend on to identify reliable, high-quality medical cannabis products and services. PFC addresses product and distribution safety in the medical cannabis industry. The program provides components for operators, legislators and regulators to promote the adoption of safe and reasonable industry standards and regulations from seed to consumption.