Pages tagged "Safe Access"


Activist Spotlight: Bunny Hethcox, Columbus, Wisconsin



Bunny Hethcox is a 54-year-old mother of two and grandmother of six. A real estate broker for 17 years, Bunny taught her kids drugs were bad. But Bunny also suffers from fibromyalgia, PTSD, depression and anxiety, and one day while driving with her son, she had a bad panic attack and was unable to find her xanax. After pulling over, sweating and shaking, her son pulled a joint from his pocket and said “I think you need this more than I do.” It took her a minute to decide whether to yell at him or try it, but once she did, she discovered that cannabis calmed her considerably.

Hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, Demerol and various other drugs had failed to ease the pain of her fibromyalgia, but after using medical cannabis for several months for her anxiety, she found that the pain lifted and her intense PTSD symptoms became tolerable. That got her doing some research on cannabis and the history of its prohibition.



Last January, she got involved with politics for the first time, doing a lobby day at the Wisconsin state capitol. After a disappointing visit with her representative, she decided to find help changing the law. She came across the ASA website only ten minutes before the deadline for scholarship applications to ASA’s National Conference in Washington D.C., but got it in on time.  She got the scholarship, and off she went to DC for the first time, worried about flying alone and what she’d find at the conference.

After meeting doctors, scientists, lawyers and leaders of medical research from the Netherlands, Canada and Israel she knew she needed to do what she could to help people get safe and legal access. She asked how to start an ASA chapter in Wisconsin, and on April 13, Bunny held the first meeting.

“We are now on our way to help Wisconsin become a legal State,” she says. “I have two choices, live in pain and suffer with anxiety and depression by keeping the law or break the law by medicating myself with cannabis to live a normal life. I choose cannabis.”


Why I am Going to Sacramento

Nothing happens in the state legislature just because it should. Sometimes laws get passed because those with a financial interest in the outcome influence lawmakers. In some cases, political favors get traded to get something done. And all too often, lobbyists are the only voices lawmakers hear when they make choices that affect citizens. That is what is happening with medical cannabis in Sacramento right now, and I hope you will join me there next month to change that conversation for the better.

Medical cannabis patients and other stakeholders are meeting in Sacramento May 4-6 for the California Medical Cannabis Policy Summit and Lobby Day. The goals of the event are to develop strategies and skills necessary to adopt beneficial legislation for medical cannabis this year, and to take that message to lawmakers in person. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our partners at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana (CRMM); a coalition of patients, cultivators, organized labor, and others; is organizing this event to be sure that patients are at the table when important decisions about regulating medical cannabis are made this year.



You can help shape the future. Last year, we brought hundreds of patients to the State Capitol and helped push medical cannabis legislation further than anyone thought possible. Lawmakers noticed our grassroots coalition and started to take us more seriously. We need that influence now more than ever. Bills to regulate cultivation, distribution, and testing of medical cannabis are on the table right now. Proposals about additional taxation are on the way. We cannot afford to be silent right now. Someone is going to influence lawmakers on good and bad legislation this year. If it is not you, it will be lobbyists, law enforcement, and others who want to roll back safe access in California.

We will have a special fundraising reception on Saturday night, and then spend all day Sunday building strategies and skills for the citizen lobby day on Monday. We will start on Monday with a press conference, and then we hope to visit every lawmaker in Sacramento to talk about what we want to see in California. We will all meet back for a complimentary VIP reception on Monday evening.

Register today for the California Medical Cannabis Policy Summit and Lobby Day. This may be the most important thing you can do for medical cannabis right now.

We have a great opportunity to do something positive for patients, cultivators, workers, and others. If lawmakers from all over the state hear in person from constituents in their Districts, we can show them that there is a safe political space to stand up for medical cannabis. That is why I am going to Sacramento: to make a difference. Will you be there with me?

Unfortunately, Maryland Did NOT Become the 19th Medical Marijuana State

When the Maryland Senate voted earlier today to approve HB 1101 today, it failed to become the 19th medical cannabis (marijuana) state. In spite of the bill's comendable intentions, it remains highly flawed. Some have touted the HB 1101 approach as a "yellow light" on medical cannabis, yet sadly, it can only be seen as a "yellow light" on a "bridge to nowhere."

In spite of the bill's laudable intent, the approach is completely untested, and causing even greater concern, the program is almost certainly  unimplementable for legal, financial and practical reasons. In fact, the Maryland Department of Legislative Services found that participation program is "expected to be low (or nonexistent)" and will "not likely to be able to comply with the bill’s requirement to set its fees at a level sufficient to offset program costs...unless it sets its fees at a level that would likely be prohibitively high."



Legal Reasons for Concern

HB 1101 would allow patients to obtain medical cannabis from "Academic Medical Centers" (AMCs), which are essentially teaching-hospitals that have federal approval to conduct trails on human subjects. While this is creative way to reinvent how medical cannabis is distributed to patients, only one potentially eligible AMC (Sinai Hospital in Baltimore) has expressed interest in becoming an AMC. However, by becoming an AMC, the hospital would likely be placing its credentials to conduct research on human subjects in jeopardy. Considering that federal interference is one of the reasons Maryland has been reticent to adopt a proven safe access model, it does not add up why Maryland would be encouraging its facilities to endanger the credentials.

But let's assume for a moment that this legal concern is not in fact an issue...

Financially Unimplementable

The DLS analysis points out that HB 1101 must be able to offset the financial costs incurred by the commission that will be set to implement it. While the DLS report mentions that the state might not be able to find any willing and eligible AMCs, it concludes that even if Sinai or another institution stepped forward and applied to be an AMC, the program would still be unable to offset its anticipated costs. Moreover, the state will have to bear the costs of establishing the administrative rules for the program, even if no AMCs ever apply to the state. It's rare feat for an essentially symbolic piece of legislation to come with a price tag, but that's what HB 1101 does, meaning Maryland taxpayers could be forced to pay for a program that may not serve any of the state's patient population.

But let's assume for a moment that the price tag issues are not a factor...

Dubious Practical Value

Absent concerns about the financial and legal viability of HB 1101, the program still contains practical flaws that would make it arguably the least patient-friendly bill in the country. The bill fails to grant physicians to right to recommend cannabis to their patients unless an eligible AMC has been approved by the state to recommend and distribute medical cannabis for certain conditions. In other words, if an AMC did not have foresight to include a patient's particular condition in its application to become an AMC, the patient would be shut out from the program. This would be particularly harmful to patients with rare conditions and conditions for which medical cannabis is an emerging therapeutic option. This also means that the Commission would have to approve conditions, and given the strong resemblance of the work group created by SB 308 (2011) that had difficulty meeting its statutory requirements, it would also require the state's patients to take a serious gamble that the Commission could meet its function.

Geography is another practical concern that should resonate with patients across the state. The most likely AMCs (Sinai, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and the University of Maryland Hospital) are all in Baltimore. Patients who do not live along the I-95 corridor, such as combat veterans living with PTSD in Cumberland, or retirees with cancer living on the Eastern Shore, may have to drive 2-3 hours each way in order to access their AMC to obtain medicine. Even if a patient is fortunate to have a caregiver assist them, the potential 6-hour trip is a completely unnecessary burden to safe access.

So what are Maryland patients left to assume? As someone who lived in Maryland for over 30 years, and has most of my loved ones still residing in the state, there was no state in 2013 that I had more personal hope for than Maryland. I really wanted Maryland to be the next medical marijuana state, but HB 1101 simply falls short, and significantly so.

Maryland's new medical may make lawmakers feel better, but it remains extremely unlikely that it will do the same for the state's patient population.

 

 

Let's Continue to Fight for Safe Access - Join ASA Today

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On her 30th birthday (March 19 in 2012), doctors discovered a cancerous mass in my sister's right breast.  She was rushed to the emergency room for an emergency mastectomy and was newly pregnant at the time.  For a grueling year, she suffered extensive chemotherapy treatments , during which she secretly used cannabis to ease her anxiety and nausea instead of drugs proscribed by her doctors which were known to harm the fetus.   Her healthy and beautiful daughter Chloe was born via scheduled cesarean with no complications other than slight prematurity.  My sister lives in Virginia, where medical cannabis is barely a conversation.  Today, a year later on March 11th, a new mass was found in her left breast.  Unless we do something to help her, my sister will unnecessarily continue to suffer through her treatments.

I have always championed the medicinal properties of cannabis and believe it should be easy to obtain and available to whoever needs it.  But nothing drives that fact home harder than experiencing it on the front lines through a loved one's suffering.  My sister is not alone.  There are so many people struggling with extreme pain, discomfort and agony on a daily basis.  Every single one of them deserves relief.

I joined ASA to not only end my story and voice to the fight for safe access to medical cannabis but to empower others to take action as well.  Today, I do so by urging you to join ASA.



ASA's 45 day Spring Membership Drive launched yesterday. Our goal, to obtain 3,000 new members starts with you.  Incidentally, it's a great time to join because we are offing a bunch of membership incentives with each membership level.

ASA members…

    • Receive discounts on ASA products, events, and materials

 

    • Get invitations to special member-only briefings

 

    • Know that they are contributing to directly on the front lines of the medical cannabis movement everyday



And for the next 45 days new and renewing members get…

    • $35 Basic membership = ASA lapel pin

 

    • $50 ASA Fan membership = ASA T-shirt

 

    • $100 ASA Friend = ASA Activist Handbook

 

    • $250 ASA Enthusiast= ASA Sweatshirt

 

    • $500 ASA Fantastic= ASA Sweatshirt and Handbook



Become a Sustaining Member with an affordable monthly contribution and get…

    • $10/month Ally = ASA lapel pin

 

    • $25/month Advocate = ASA T-shirt

 

    • $50/month Activist = ASA Activist Handbook

 

    • $100/month Leader = ASA Sweatshirt

 

    • $250/month Movement Builder = ASA Sweatshirt and Handbook



60% of Americans for Safe Access’ (ASA) budget comes from individuals just like you.  Your membership ensures that ASA can answer calls from thousands of patients every month, weigh-in on legislation around the country, represent you in Washington, DC, and give advocates the tools they need to create safe and legal access in their communities. No one else is doing this important work, and it only happens because of the support of people like you.

You can help make it happen right now. Join ASA or renew your membership today. That way you can know that you are helping to make a real difference in the fight for medical cannabis nationwide.

Unlike contributions to a 501(c)(3), donations to 501(c)(4)s are not tax deductible as charitable contributions.  But your financial contribution goes so much further because it directly affects change on the issues you care about.

Together, we can work together to directly affect chance for so many deserving people whether we know them or not. by joining ASA and lending out voices to the ongoing fight for medical cannabis.