Pages tagged "Regulations"

  • ASA has been working on state and local regulations for medical cannabis for years

    California voters adopted the Compassionate Use Act (CUA), known as Proposition 215, in 1996. That landmark voter initiative removed criminal penalties for most cannabis crimes for patients with a doctor’s recommendation for medical cannabis use and their designated primary caregiver. The CUA protects patients and caregivers from criminal prosecution for growing and using medical cannabis, but the law did not answer many questions about medical cannabis in California.

    How will law enforcement know who is legal? What makes someone a bona fide caregiver under the law? Is there any limit on how many plants a patient can grow or how much medicine a patient can possess? Where do patients who cannot or will not grow cannabis get the medicine they need? What exactly is legal under state law?

    The CUA calls on lawmakers “to implement a plan to provide for the safe and affordable distribution” of medical cannabis. However, state lawmakers were initially reluctant to adopt statewide regulations for medical cannabis. In that vacuum, some cities and counties began to experiment with regulations for local access program to meet the needs of legal patients. ASA help create and adopt some of the earliest local medical cannabis ordinances in the San Francisco Bay Area and other places.

    Most of the early local ordinances regulating medical cannabis focused on safety, preventing diversion of medicine, and land use issues around local access points (often called dispensaries). Local lawmakers did not address issues regarding cultivation, manufacturing, or laboratory testing in these early ordinances. Many cities and counties remained ambivalent about licensing or regulating medical cannabis activity in the absence of clear guidance from the state.

    The state legislature adopted the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA), known as SB 420 (Vasconcellos), in 2003. This bill provided some clarity as to what was legal in California, but there was not sufficient political will to include comprehensive regulations for the medical cannabis industry that was already emerging in the state. Among other provisions, the MMPA required each county to issue voluntary medical cannabis identification cards, set numeric limits on cultivation and possession, authorized primary caregivers to receive compensation for providing medicine to patients, and recognized the right of patients and caregivers to “associate… collectively or cooperatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes.”

    The California Attorney General published guidelines for interpreting the MMPA in 2008. ASA was deeply involved in the development of the document. The final version recognized that legally organized and operated cooperative or collective patients’ association could maintain a storefront for distributing the medical cannabis they cultivated to legal patient and caregiver members. The Attorney General’s guidelines and subsequent case law helped to solidify the definition of a member-supplied medical cannabis cooperative or collective association. Members grow and consume medicine in a cooperative or collective in a closed loop system, isolated from the illicit market in non-medical cannabis.

    The California Supreme Court ruled in People v. Kelly (2010) that the numeric limits on cultivating cannabis plants and possessing medical cannabis in the MMPA were unconstitutional amendments to the voter-approved CUA. The California constitution prohibits the state legislature from amending voter initiatives. However, the restrictions on cultivation and possession still apply to individual patients and caregivers who choose to obtain a voluntary medical cannabis identification card authorized under the MMPA.

    While the MMPA was step in the right direction, it offered little guidance to local lawmakers regarding commercial medical cannabis activity. ASA continued to work with lawmakers and organizers statewide to adopt local ordinances after the MMPA was adopted. We had many big wins. ASA was part of a coalition that overturned a ban on medical cannabis facilities in Los Angeles and subsequently adopted Measure D, a voter initiative that allowed for qualified patients' associations to remain open in that city.

    Since the CUA was adopted, cities and counties in California have adopted a patchwork of local ordinances to regulate or ban medial cannabis activity. Cities like San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Sebastopol, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Palm Springs, San Diego, and more give licenses to dispensaries. In Los Angeles, dispensaries that meet certain criteria have “limited immunity” from prosecution. Other cites and counties ban dispensaries outright, while many jurisdictions have simply done nothing about medical cannabis.

    Inconsistency and uncertainty about the law have stymied further progress at the local level. City Councils and County Boards of Supervisors are often unwilling to move forward with local ordinances without direction form the state. In the meantime, patients and provides must cope with rules that change from one jurisdiction to another.  Worse still, some local governments have banned medical cannabis activity altogether. Efforts to stop local bans in the courts have been unsuccessful so far.

    In response to growing political and public pressure, The California legislature adopted three bills, known collectively as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), to license and regulate commercial medical cannabis activity in 2015. When fully implemented, the bills will license and regulate the lawful cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, sales, and testing of medical cannabis in the state.

    ASA supported this effort and worked closely with lawmakers and other stakeholders to make important improvements to the MMRSA. ASA successfully advocated to exempt medical cannabis patients’ personal cultivation rights from commercial regulatory rules and to move regulatory oversight from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control to the newly created Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, within the Department of Consumer Affairs.  ASA also successfully opposed a state-wide production tax on commercial cannabis cultivation.

    ASA objected to the requirement in the MMRSA 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. We failed to remove that requirement in its entirety. However, we did persuade the Authors to make two important concessions: (1) lawmakers added the word “authorization” to expand the types of local approval beyond actual local licenses or permits, and (2) lawmakers agreed that the state could license cultivation in any city that does not ban or authorize cultivation before March 1, 2016.

    ASA launched the Local Access Project to help support community organizers who want to adopt local licensing, permitting, or other authorization required for applicants seeking a state medical cannabis licensee under the MMRSA. Our goal is to help community organizers create opportunities for licensing in cities and counties where it is possible to adopt or amend medical cannabis laws or repeal local bans.

  • California Lawmakers Should Tax and Regulate Cannabis Like Medicine

    CA Capitol

    Last year’s trio of bills comprising The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) bring overdue clarity to California’s 20-year-old program, but many legislative decisions that affect legal medical cannabis patients remain.

    In considering those decisions, is important that lawmakers and regulators treat medical cannabis like real medicine. We tax and regulate vices, such as alcohol and tobacco, in a fundamentally different way than we do medicine. We would never erect barriers to obtaining heart medication, but we do take steps to discourage tobacco use.  Likewise, we would not tolerate a sin tax on insulin or chemotherapy, even if the revenue was dedicated to a laudable goal. Lawmakers must resist the temptation to lump medical and non-medical cannabis use together when making policy choices.

    Some Californians, including members of the legislature, claim most medical cannabis patients are not really ill. One lawmaker recently testified that as few as 30% of patients are legitimate but provided no evidence to support the allegation. Some anecdotes of abuse of the state’s medical cannabis law may be true, but lawmakers should reject the cynical position that most medical cannabis patients are recreational users. Research and experience show otherwise.  

    A study published in 2014 shows that of the 1.4 million Californians who have used medical cannabis, almost all (92%) report cannabis helped treat the symptoms of a serious medical condition. The study challenges the commonly held perception that medical cannabis is being overused by healthy people and demonstrates that the state’s medical cannabis laws are providing real relief to many Californians (“Prevalence of medical marijuana use in California, 2012”, Drug and Alcohol Review (2014), DOI 10.111/dar. 12207).

    This groundbreaking report is the first based on a large dataset representative of the state’s population. The California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which is an ongoing cross-sectional telephone survey, interviewed more than 7,500 Californians in English and Spanish, making this the most comprehensive scientific study of cannabis use in California ever conducted.

    The analysis shows that one in twenty Californians have used medical cannabis. More than 30% used medical cannabis to treat chronic pain; 11% used it for arthritis, 8% for migraines, and 7% for cancer. Participants also reported using medical cannabis to treat the symptoms of HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, muscle spasms, nausea, stress, and depression. These are not trivial or minor ailments. These are serious medical conditions for which conventional treatments are often ineffective or unavailable.

    The results refute smaller studies that suggest most users are young white males. Researchers found that medical cannabis was used at similar rates by men and women, the young and the old, patients with high and low levels of education, and in various regions of the state.

    This rigorous evidence that medical cannabis is commonly used throughout the state by a diverse population, and that it is highly effective in treating serious conditions, matters right now. Lawmakers are considering new legislation this year regarding taxation, commercial licensing, patients’ rights, and more. Those important decisions will affect medical cannabis patients and other stakeholders and need to be informed by facts, not anecdotes, misperceptions, or bias. 

    Voters are likely to decide in November if cannabis should be legal for non-medical use. There should be a separate conversation about what posture lawmakers and regulators take towards cannabis used for non-medical purposes. Those taxes and regulations might reasonably differ from those related to legal medical use. 

    In the meantime, we need everyone who is going to make a decision about medical cannabis this year to understand that medical cannabis is medicine for real. That is important because decisions made about genuine medicine will be fundamentally different than those we make about regulating alcohol, tobacco, or non-medical cannabis. The idea that most medical cannabis users are not really sick or that their use is not medical is misinformation. The research says otherwise, and our local and state policies should reflect the critical role medical cannabis plays in the treatment of California patients.

    Click here to download this page as a .pdf file. 

     

  • The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act will license and regulate commercial medical cannabis activity in California

    CA Gov. Jerry BrownCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown signed three historic bills today that will finally license and regulate commercial medical cannabis activity in the state. Known collectively as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), the bills create a legal framework for medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, transportation, sales, and testing. ASA has been working on state regulations since 2012, because our research and experience show that sensible regulations are good for legal patients and communities. AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643 are a big step forward for patients, industry, other medical cannabis stakeholders, and community members.

    So now what? Please join ASA California Director Don Duncan on a live Google Hangout on Thursday, October 15, at 8:00 PM PT for a broadcast entitled What’s Next for Medical Cannabis… Regulation, Legalization, and More.” You can participate in the broadcast using Google+ (you must install free software) or watch without the interactive features on YouTube (no software to install). 

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  • The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act will finally license and regulation commercial medical cannabis activity in California

    During a news conference in Oakland Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Don Duncan with Americans for Safe Access were joined by Assemblymembers Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and other local and state advocates to urge Governor Jerry Brown to sign a trio of medical marijuana bills that passed the Legislature. Assemblymember Bonta, lead author of Assembly Bill 266, told the media “With this legislation, the ‘wild west’ of the medical marijuana industry will be reined in and all of California will benefit.” Duncan says he feels the legislation will benefit patients, law enforcement and communities, “We know from our research and our experience that sensible regulations for medical cannabis preserves safe and legal access for patients and communities...and they reduce crime.” Here’s more in this Assembly Access video. http://www.asmdc.org/bonta

  • Medical cannabis news, events, and more from all over the state

    CA Weekly Roundup bannerContents (Scroll down for details and links):

    News

    • National
    • California
    • Local

    Events

    • October 5, 2015 – Los Angeles Budget and Finance Committee Hearing (Los Angeles)
    • March 18-22, 2016 – National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference (Washington, DC)

    Court Support

    • October 1, 2015 – Court Support for James Benno (Redding)
    • October 2, 2015 – Court Support for Fred Delmer (Placerville)
    • More

    Take Action Now

    • Sign the Petition to Ask Your Representative and Senators to Sign on to the CARERS Act! (National)

    ASA Website Spotlight

    • The Medical Cannabis Advocate's Training Center
    • National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference 2016

    Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

    • October 1, 2015 - Sonoma ASA (Santa Rosa)
    Read more
  • Medical cannabis news and events from around California

    Banner_CA_Roundup.jpg

    Happy Labor Day! Take action today to oppose unreasonable taxes on medical cannabis cultivation in California, and stay tuned for breaking news on legislation to license and regulate commercial medical cannabis activity this week. Be sure to check FaceBook and Twitter to stay up to date!

    The California Legislature adjourns for the year this Friday. Join me for a live Google Hangout online at 8:00 PM on Tuesday, September 15, for the “California Legislative Roundup” to find out what bills made it and what comes next. See the links below.

    Contents (Scroll down for details and links):

    News

    • National
    • California
    • Local

    Events

    • September 9, 2015 - Medical Cannabis Industry Business Resource Seminar (Los Angeles)
    • September 15, 2015 – Live Google Hangout: California Legislative Roundup (Online)
    • March 18-22, 2016 – Early Bird Registration: National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference (Washington, DC)

    Court Support

    • September 24, 2015 - Court Support for Frank and Marthalina Huerta (Porterville)
    • More

    Take Action Now

    • Oppose AB 243 in the California Senate (California)
    • Medical Marijuana: A Patient Survey (California)

    ASA Website Spotlight

    • National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference 2016
    • ASA-CCSA Email Discussion List

    Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

    • September 10, 2015 – Brownie Mary Democratic Club of San Francisco (San Francisco)

    Read more
  • Medical cannabis news, events, and more from all over the state

    Contents (Scroll down for details and links):

    News

    • National
    • California
    • Local

    Events

    • August 26, 2015 - Improving Analysis and Quality Control of Cannabis Products Using Complementary Analytical Techniques (Online)
    • August 26, 2015 – Assembly Appropriations Hearing on SB 643 (Sacramento)
    • August 27, 2015 – Senate Appropriations Hearing on AB 243 and AB 266 (Sacramento)
    • August 30, 2015 - 2nd Annual Sonoma Blossom Festival (Santa Rosa)
    • March 18-22, 2016 - National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference (Washington, DC)

    Court Support

    • August 26, 2016 – Court Support for Levine (Oroville)
    • More

    Take Action Now

    • Sign the Petition to Ask Your Representative and Senators to Sign on to the CARERS Act!  (National)
    • 5 Things People Can Do to Help Create Safe Access (National)
    • Medical Marijuana: A Patient Survey (California)

    ASA Website Spotlight

    • 2015 Legislation
    • ASA-CCSA Email Discussion List

    Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

    • August 25, 2015 - San Diego ASA (San Diego)
    • August 27, 2015 – Sacramento ASA (Sacramento)
    Read more
  • Maryland Commission Approves Final Regulations

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    Image Courtesy of Medical Jane.

    Note: (Aug. 26, 2015) Corrections have been to reflect the vote outcome and application availability dates.

    Earlier today, the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission voted to approve final regulations for Maryland's medical cannabis program. Today's vote was the culmination for 16 months worth of work since the Commission's inception in April 2014. Today's approval vote means that there were no substantive changes made to the regulations from the draft that was published in the June 26, 2015 edition of the Maryland Register (see page 812); however, several minor technical changes were made and will be available to the public shortly on the Commission website. The Commission vote to approve the regulations was near-unanimous with one vote against from the Maryland State's Attorney appointee. 

    The Commission also announced today the timetable for implementation is still on schedule. Applications for those seeking to become growers, processors and dispensaries will be available in September. Physicians and patient application forms will be available later in the year. Under the Maryland law, physicians must register with the Commission and be approved for the conditions that they can recommend for. However, the Commission is strongly encouraged to approve most types of conditions that a physicians seeks to recommend, and the Commission can approve any condition if they feel it is appropriate. 

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  • Research and experience show that sensible regulations are good for patients, providers, and communities

    CA Capitol BuildingThe California State Legislature will return from summer recess on Monday, and three medical cannabis bills will be on the table that day. The Senate Appropriations committee will hear testimony on bills to license and regulate commercial medical cannabis activity and to toughen laws related to manufacturing concentrated cannabis. You can read more about AB 243 (Wood), AB 266 (Bonta), and AB 849 (Bonilla) on ASA’s email discussion list or our website.

    While California has been slow to license and regulate commercial medical cannabis activity, other states have already moved successfully in that direction. Patients in Colorado, Arizona and Maine already get their medicine from fully functional and well-regulated medical cannabis programs.  ASA is committed to bringing the proven benefits of regulation to patients and other stakeholders in California. 

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  • Medical cannabis news and events from around the state

    Google Hangout

    Join me for another live Google Hangout tomorrow night at 8:00 PM PT. We will be talking about what pending medical cannabis legislation does and does not mean for patients and providers in California. You can be a part of he conversation by logging on to “The Truth About Medical Cannabis: Regulations in California.”

    Get more details about the Google Hangout below; plus medical cannabis news, events, court support requests, action alerts, and more in the California Weekly Roundup for Monday, July 27, 2015.

    Contents (Scroll down for details and links):

    News

    • National
    • California
    • Local

    Events

    • July 28, 2015 - Sacramento County Board of Supervisors Meeting (Sacramento)
    • July 28, 2015 – The Truth About Medical Cannabis: Regulations in California (Online)

    Court Support

    • July 27, 2015 – Court Support for James Morton (Oroville)
    • July 29, 2015 – Court Support for Lance and Julie Stenhouse (Red Bluff)
    • More

    Take Action Now

    • Sign the Petition to Ask Your Representative and Senators to Sign on to the CARERS Act!  (National)
    • 5 Things People Can Do to Help Create Safe Access (National)
    • Growing Medical Cannabis is Not a Waste (Sacramento County)

    ASA Website Spotlight

    • Provider Resources and Support

    Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

    • July 28, 2015 – San Diego ASA (San Diego)
    Read more