Pages tagged "Regulations"

  • SB 1262 Goes to the Suspense File with an Uncertain Fate

    Member Mike GattoUPDATE 08/14/2014 - The Assembly Appropriations Committee held SB 1262 in committee today, so it will not pass this year.

    The California Assembly Appropriations Committee placed SB 1262 into the suspense file this morning. The suspense file is where the committee sends any bill with an annual cost of more than $150,000. Suspense file bills are considered at one hearing when the committee has a better sense of available revenue. The deadline for bills in the suspense file to be approved by the committee is August 15, but the last scheduled meeting of the Appropriations Committee is tomorrow.

    Pictured: Assembly Appropriations Committee Chairman Mike Gatto (D-Burbank)

    SB 1262 may be approved by the committee tomorrow. If so, it will go to the full Assembly for a vote. However, SB 1262 may not make it out of suspense this year for any number of reasons. If that happens, we will have to go back to the drawing board for statewide medical cannabis regulations in January. Both co-authors, Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) and Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), are term-limited. Neither will serve in the legislature next year, so someone else will have to author a regulatory bill in 2015.

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  • SB 1262 and California Patients

    photo2.JPGThe debate about SB 1262 in California has been a contentious one, and controversy is sure to persist until a final vote on the bill that will regulate doctors who recommend medical cannabis and those who commercially cultivate, process, test, and distribute it. About 150 medical cannabis patients and stakeholders came to Sacramento on Monday to talk about SB 1262 and other legislation. They debated the pros and cons of the bills, and voiced opinions for and against SB 1262 in more than 100 legislative offices. Well done!

    The provisions of the bill related to commercial licensing have dominated the debate, but I am hearing an important question more often as we come to the endgame for SB 1262. What does the bill mean for patients? That is a good question, and the answer is good news for those who legally use medical cannabis in California.

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  • State Regulations Moving Forward

    Contents:

    • Message from the CA Director: State Regulations Moving Forward
    • California & National News
    • Public Meetings & Events
    • Court Support
    • Take Action Now
    • ASA Website Spotlight: ASA Condition-based Booklets
    • ASA Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

      

    Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has joined as a principal co-author to Senator Lou Correa’s (D-Santa Ana) SB 1262. That bill will better regulate doctors who recommend medical cannabis and commercial medical cannabis activity in California. The bill has been substantially amended since it passed the California Senate by a vote of 31-0 in May.  ASA and other advocates have managed to get most of the objectionable provisions in early drafts removed, and the bill now includes large portions on Assembly Member Ammiano’s AB 1894. Assembly Member Ammiano is our biggest champion in the legislature, but AB 1894 was defeated in the Assembly earlier this year.

    I know many of you were surprised to see ASA supporting a bill originally authored by a moderate Democrat from Orange County and sponsored by lobbyists representing cities and law enforcement. Those are not our traditional allies, but early on, ASA recognized the value of a compromise bill that might finally get through the legislature and be signed by the Governor. That is why we decided to get behind SB 1262 and make it the best bill possible. That strategy is working.

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  • Big news in California

    CA State Capitol BuildingI hope you have all heard the big news from Washington, DC, last week. The US House of Representatives voted to end funding for federal medical cannabis enforcement in states where it is legal. This is a major victory for medical cannabis patients and providers! Read more about the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment and what comes next in a blog by ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer and in the “News” Section of the website.

    You may not have seen another big story from right here in California. On Thursday, the same day as that momentous vote in Congress, the California Assembly rejected a bill by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) that would have empowered the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to write and enforce regulations for commercial medical cannabis activity statewide. AB 1894 lost by a vote of 26 to 33, with 20 lawmakers not voting (corrected 06/02/2014). The bill needed 41 votes to pass the Assembly and advance to the Senate.

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  • ASA California Roundup: May 26, 2014

    CA Sen. Lou CorreaContents:

    Message from the CA Director - Support SB 1262 in California

    California News

    • Pot growers face charges -- in state where pot is legal (National)
    • U.S. Says Legal Marijuana Growers Can't Use Federal Irrigation Water (National)
    • Experts Debate Use of Cannabis to Control Seizures (National)
    • Calif. law would require cops to return seized pot if charges are dropped (California)
    • John Vasconcellos, longtime Silicon Valley lawmaker, dies at 82  (California)
    • Medical Marijuana Opponents File for an Initiative (Santa Monica)
    • Medical marijuana measure qualifies for June 2015 ballot (Riverside)
    • Editorial: Riverside again ground zero in medical pot fight (Riverside)
    • A Balanced Plan for Medical Cannabis Regulation in San Jose (San Jose)
    • San Jose City Council to Vote on Medical Marijuana Rules (San Jose)
    • Cannaroma: The Werc Shop Unveils Terpene-Enhanced Product Line (Pasadena)
    • County’s marijuana eradication/suppression program (San Bernardino County)
    • LA Pot Politics Spreads Statewide (Los Angeles)
    • Santa Cruz County mulls marijuana dispensary tax (Santa Cruz)
    • Teen arraigned in deadly pot dispensary robbery (San Diego)
    • Yabba dabba do(n't): An uncertain future and a legal gray area shade the growing trend of cannabis concentrates (San Luis Obispo)

    Events

    • Wednesday, May 28, 2014 – Sacramento County Board of Supervisors Meeting (Sacramento)
    • Saturday, May 31, 2014 – ASA Spring Membership Drive Ends (Nationwide)
    • Monday, August 4, 2014 – CA Citizen Lobby Day (Sacramento)

    Court Support

    • Friday, May 30, 2014 – Court Support for Tavi Gonzales (Rancho Cucamonga)

    Take Action

    • Support SB 1262 in California
    • Join Americans for Safe Access (ASA)

    ASA Website Spotlight

    • Joining a Movement

    ASA Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

    • Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - San Diego ASA (North County)
    • Thursday, May 29, 2014 - Sacramento ASA (Sacramento)
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  • Regulations are good for patients

    headlineVoters in California adopted the county’s first medical cannabis law in 1996, but the state has lagged behind in implementing it. The Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420), adopted by the legislature in 2003, recognized cooperative and collective patients’ associations, but gave little clarity as to the details of how they should operate. Cities and counties have developed a patchwork of local ordinances regulating and banning medical cannabis in the legal vacuum. That leaves some cities and counties with stable, well-regulated facilities, while others are effectively "access deserts" - areas without safe, legal, and dignified access to medicine.

    Most of the players in California’s nascent medical cannabis industry see regulations as inevitable, and the more savvy ones recognize the benefits regulation offers to those looking to serve the state’s vast patient population on the long term.  Two regulatory bills are vying for support in Sacramento right now: Senator Lou Correa’s (D-Santa Ana) SB 1262 and Assembly Member Tom Ammiano’s (D-San Francisco) AB 1894. They take different tacks, but both would reign in the commercial medical cannabis trade and related businesses. So what is in it for patients? A lot, it turns out.

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  • Taking your seat at the table in California - August 12

    There is an important conversation about medical cannabis happening in Sacramento right now. That conversation will affect how medical cannabis patients get their medicine, who regulates the field, whether or not every community will have safe and dignified access, and more. Will you have a seat at the table? Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our coalition partners at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana (CRMM) want to make sure you do. Join us in Sacramento for an important citizen lobby day at the state Capitol on Monday, August 12, to be heard.

    Our previous lobby days have been effective in moving the ball down the field for sensible statewide medical cannabis regulation, but there is still a lot of work to be done to pass a bill this year. The next lobby day comes at a crucial juncture in the legislative process and at a time when grassroots support for moving forward is badly needed. We need to make a strong showing on August 12, so that lawmakers know that voters in their legislative districts support regulation. Otherwise, they will only be hearing from lobbyists representing divergent views on medical cannabis – law enforcement, local government, industry interests, and others. Patients and their advocates need to be part of that conversation, or our interests may be crowded out!

    Lawmakers need to hear from you face-to-face. When you register for the California Summer Lobby Day on August 12, ASA will make an appointment for you to meet your state Assemblymember and Senator or his or her staff that afternoon. There are 120 legislative offices to visit. If we are in most or all of those offices on August 12, the impact will be significant. Help us make it happen.

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  • AB 473 falls short in California Assembly

    Tom Ammiano

    The California Assembly rejected AB 473 on Friday. The 35-37 vote means the effort by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF) to regulate commercial medical cannabis activity in the state will not move on to the Senate. Friday was the last day for bills to be approved in their house of origin, but even after two votes in as many days, the controversial bill did not garner the forty one votes needed for approval. AB 473 would have created a new Division in the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to write and enforce statewide regulations.

    Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our coalition partners at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana (CRMM) strongly support the goal of better and more equitably regulating commercial medical cannabis activity in California. Although medical cannabis has been legal in the state for seventeen years, the legislature has never adopted a comprehensive plan to implement Proposition 215 or regulate cultivation, transportation, and distribution of medicine. Patients, cultivators, industry workers, and other stakeholders need sensible regulations to help overcome public ambivalence, perceptions of abuse, and wildly inconsistent enforcement practices in communities across the state.



    AB 473 might have been an important step towards a better-regulated medical cannabis system in California, but there were some big problems with the bill. The medical cannabis community was reluctant to embrace ABC as a regulatory body for medical cannabis. ASA steadfastly argued for regulatory oversight in another part of the Department of Consumer Affairs or the Department of Health. We worried that ABC, which is charged with reigning in vice, would be poorly motivated to facilitate access to medicine.

    ASA also took issue with an eleventh-hour amendment in the Appropriations Committee that made local zoning approval a prerequisite for the state registration required under the bill. More than two-hundred cities and counties already have bans on medical cannabis patients’ cooperatives and collectives. Others have bans or severe limitations on cultivating medicine. A recent California Supreme Court Decision, City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, authorizes local bans, and many of our constituents were looking for legislation that corrected or mitigated the court’s unfortunate ruling. This amendment did the opposite.

    One lesson from AB 473 is that lawmakers need to hear from supporters in their community if we expect them to make difficult decisions and stand up for medical cannabis. AB 473 lost because Democrats in Southern and Central California failed to support the bill. Fourteen Democrats from these more conservative parts of the state joined five Northern California Democrats in voting no on the bill. Another seven Democrats cast no vote at all, which is functionally vote against the bill (forty-one votes are needed for approval). The bill only needed six of those twenty six votes to pass. Could patients and advocates have swayed six of these twenty six Democrats to vote yes, if the Assemblymembers knew there was support for an affirmative vote at home? Absolutely.

    Another lesson from AB 473 is that lawmakers need to listen to their constituents when they have concerns about legislation. The community’s uncertainty about the net benefit of AB 473 was clear. The Author and Democratic leadership must realize that our community expects to be heard alongside the army of lawyers, lobbyists, and consultants that have flocked to this issue in the last two years. Medical cannabis may be a nascent industry, but it is still fundamentally a patients’ movement. Patients must be at the table when bills and amendments are being vetted.

    Perhaps the most important lesson from the demise of AB 473 is the need for pragmatism from all of the stakeholders. This bill was imperfect, but the process of implementing medical cannabis law and regulating commercial activity must move forward for everyone’s benefit. We are not going to get everything we want in a medical cannabis bill right now, and we will not be able to stop every proposal or amendment with which we disagree. Compromise is part of the political process. It would be a shame to miss another opportunity to move the ball down the court for patients, cultivators, and industry workers because we do not agree on all of the details.

    We are going to have another chance to do something about medical cannabis in Sacramento this year. SB 439 by Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Senator Mark Leno (D-SF) was approved by the Senate on May 20. That bill will clarify the scope of protection offered by the state’s medical cannabis laws and codifies guidelines published by the Attorney General in 2008. SB 439 will formally recognize the right of patients’ cooperatives and collectives to maintain storefront facilities (dispensaries) to provide medicine for members, expands protections to employees of patients’ associations, and recognizes that members buy their medicine from the associations. Substantial amendments – good and bad – are likely as the bill moves through the Assembly.

    Let’s learn our lessons from AB 473 and do a better job of shaping and adopting SB 439. Speak up to your lawmakers about this bill, insist that everyone is included in the debate, and be reasonable about compromises that may be necessary to get where we need to go.

  • SB 289 means trouble for legal patients

    California Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) has proposed a bill that would turn most of the state’s legal medical cannabis patients into criminals. SB 289 will make it a crime to drive with any amount of a controlled substance in your blood, unless the drug was prescribed by a doctor. The bill makes no exception for medical cannabis patients, whose medicine is recommend by a doctor, as opposed to prescribed. That means trouble for responsible, law abiding medical cannabis patients statewide.

    Regular medical cannabis users may have detectable levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the active compounds in cannabis, for up to two days after using medicine (See G. Skopp and L. Potsch, "Cannabinoid concentrations in spot serum samples 24-48 hours after discontinuation of cannabis smoking," Journal of Analytical Toxicology 32: 160-4, 2008). However, measurable impairment from medical cannabis use may only last a few hours. This means that a legal medical cannabis user will be in violation of SB 289, because he or she has a detectable amount of THC long after there is any potential for impairment.

    ASA is asking medical cannabis supporters to speak up against SB 289 to protect legal patients from unnecessary arrest. The bill will be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, April 30, so your California Senator needs to hear from you now.

     



    Testing for cannabis and medical cannabis impairment is a controversial topic nationwide. Voters in the state of Washington approved an absurdly-low threshold for cannabis-impairment when they approved I502 last year, and rule makers in Colorado seemed poised to do the same. Why the zero-tolerance approach to cannabis and medical cannabis, even where it is legal? Certainly no one wants to see impaired drivers on the road, but the root of the issue is stigma. Zero tolerance measures like SB 289 ignore science and rely instead on the perception of cannabis and medical cannabis users as irresponsible and dangerous on the road. Stigma makes laws that enshrine discrimination plausible, and that in turn, gives medical cannabis opponents the chance to push back on safe access.

    California law already makes driving while impaired by any drug – legal or otherwise – a crime. We do not need another bill to turn up the heat a little more – especially when some of those drivers are obeying the law. Lawmakers should reject SB 289 and rely on science and common sense when making policy.
  • Patient Advocates Seek Changes to Draft Regulations for Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Law

    Patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) filed recommended amendments today to draft regulations which were issued last month by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) in order to implement Question 3, the state’s new medical marijuana law. The amendments were filed in advance of a scheduled hearing by the Public Health Council that took place today in Boston.

    The draft regulations are the product of many weeks of deliberation, during which time DPH sought input from medical marijuana patients and other stakeholders, including ASA, the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance (MPAA) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Seeking a broad range of feedback, DPH held public hearings earlier this month in Boston, Plymouth, and Florence.

    In November, sixty-three percent of voters approved Question 3, making Massachusetts the 18th medical marijuana state. Question 3 establishes a framework that allows qualifying patients with serious illnesses to get a recommendation from their licensed physician for the use of marijuana, and further enables patients to obtain their medicine from a registered Medical Marijuana Treatment Center (MMTC). Overseen by DPH, the MMTCs will be licensed to cultivate, process, and sell medical marijuana to qualifying patients who are allowed to obtain up to 10 ounces in a 60 day period. Patients who qualify under a hardship provision will be able to cultivate for themselves if unable to access a MMTC due to distance, disability, or low income.

    And, while patient advocates are generally pleased with the draft regulations and the progress made by DPH, there remain concerns over a few provisions that could limit patients’ access to medical marijuana. For example, the regulations require physicians to register with DPH and undergo mandatory training before being authorized to recommend marijuana to their patients. Patients are concerned that this requirement will chill physician participation in the program and make it more difficult for patients to obtain a recommendation.

    Dr. Karen Munkacy, an anesthesiologist and delegate to the Massachusetts Medical Society, as well as a board member of ASA, testified at today’s hearing. While Dr. Munkacy agreed that educating doctors about medical marijuana would be helpful, she said in a previous statement that, "I have concerns about any regulation that would create additional obstacles for physicians who want to incorporate this medicine into their practice.”

    The draft regulations also prohibit patients from obtaining their medication from more than one MMTC, and place unique and onerous restrictions on minors who might benefit from medical marijuana. Advocates argue that these types of restrictions create unnecessary barriers to treatment. Dr. Munkacy testified today that:

    If we limit this medicine only to dying children, then it is not legally available for the 80 percent of children who live longer than six months after their cancer diagnosis.  Childhood cancer is rare, but distraught parents, who are already dealing the nightmare of their child having cancer, shouldn’t also have the nightmare of buying their children’s medicine from back alley drug dealers.

    Although Massachusetts law allows certain qualifying patients to cultivate their own medical marijuana, advocates argue that the draft regulations unduly limit such activity. For example, patients that can show their income, disability, or lack of mobility is an impediment to obtaining their medicine from an MMTC, they may be able to cultivate it themselves or find a caregiver to grow it for them. However, the financial hardship threshold, as it stands, only includes the poorest of the poor and excludes patients who still have a legitimate economic barrier to purchasing their medicine from an MMTC. Also, the lack of an appeals process for patients seeking hardship qualification denies them due process rights that are part of other social services programs.

    After the final draft regulations have been completed, DPH will present them again to the PHC on May 8th and, if adopted, they will go into effect on May 24th.