Pages tagged "Steph Sherer"


Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Slowly Moving in the Right Direction

As most of you know, Massachusetts passed a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana (MMJ) last November 6.  Although we were optimistic it would pass, we were very pleased when 63% of the voters, nearly 1.9 million people voted for this.

The Massachusetts Medical Society (which has over 24,000 physician members) had been against the ballot initiative from the campaign’s infancy.  I attended their biannual meeting last November 30, where they were voting on whether to recommend delaying implementation of the ballot initiative, and if they should recommend physicians turn in other physicians to the licensing board if they recommended medical cannabis.



With the help of Steph Sherer, we came up with a forceful argument to gain their support.  I presented the “Conant vs. Walters” legal decision, which protects physicians against legal action if they recommend cannabis to patients.  As well as info about the physician education course, which is taught by world-class physicians, that ASA has put together.  I said "the only education most, if not all of the physicians in the room have on medical cannabis is what they learned from smoking it in their dorm rooms during college."  There was laughter from the audience, but my point was well understood.  I further noted that the Massachusetts Medical Society has an obligation to its members to educate them about this medicine.

Thankfully, my words were heeded that day and the Massachusetts Medical Society voted against both delaying implementation as well as recommending their members turn in other doctors who recommend medical cannabis.

The November ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana required regulations be issued by May 1, to implement the law.  This deadline will most likely be missed due to complexity of trying to finalize rules.  Though the laws went into effect at the beginning of the year and patients can grow a limited amount, dispensaries will not be allowed to operate until regulations are set.

I met with the officials at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, on January 22, regarding this issue. They were happy to receive the AHPA guidelines and even requested additional information on an array of issues.  I was especially happy because these regulators were genuinely grateful for the help and information we were offering. I left the meeting with the impression that they are working carefully and thoughtfully to create a medical cannabis program that will well serve patients’ needs in our state.

Although there will always be those that vehemently oppose safe access, my experiences working on implementation in Massachusetts have shown me that so long as you are truthful, passionate about the cause, and assume best intentions, things have a way of moving forward in a positive direction.

Medical Cannabis News Roundup

For your perusing pleasure, here are several recent articles about the medical cannabis movement.

Reason TV on Cedars-Sinai denying liver transplant to medical marijuana patient Norman Smith

The fight to get a liver transplant for Norman Smith took another big step today with a Reason TV expose, "Transplant Denied," featuring Smith and Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the group that’s throwing its weight behind the struggling medical marijuana patient. Smith, 63, was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2009 and was put on a transplant waiting list at the world-renowned Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. However a year ago, after becoming eligible for a transplant, Smith was removed from the list for testing positive for medical marijuana use. It didn’t seem to matter that Smith’s oncologist at Cedars was the physician who had recommended its use. This moving piece by Reason TV accurately conveys the life of a man hanging in the balance between policies based on moral judgment and the therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana. At his wit’s end, Smith tells Reason TV:
It’s only my life that I'm fighting for. What do I have to hide? I have nothing to hide.
Smith called his chances a “long shot,” but still wanted to “effect a change:”
It’s probably too late for me, but I hope it makes it easier for the next guy.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of other medical marijuana patients in California and other states who are suffering the same fate as Smith. With the authority for such decisions left to Cedars and transplant centers like it, the push for policy change must be directed locally. As such, ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford sent a letter to Cedars, urging it to immediately re-list Smith and change it policy with regard to medical marijuana. So far, Cedars has refused to budge. Stay tuned here at Voices from the Frontlines for next steps in the transplant case of Norman Smith and the outdated policies of Cedars-Sinai. In the meantime, view this additional video footage of Smith and his plight.

ASA California Tour: August 19 - September 1



This month, ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer and I will be visiting eleven cities in California to train, empower, and activate the grassroots base of support for medical cannabis! Mark your calendar today for the closest stop on the ASA California Tour 2011.

We will be conducting a Know-Your-Rights and Raid Preparedness Training in each city, followed by very special city-wide Stakeholders Meeting. ASA invites patients, caregivers, doctors, researchers, community members, and others to attend these free events all over the state.


The need to mobilize the base in California has never been greater. Cities and counties are adopting regulations, moratoria, and bans on patients’ associations and cultivation. Patients and providers routinely encounter resistance from law enforcement. Media bias and public ambivalence threaten to roll back gains made over the last few years. State lawmakers are grappling with legislation that will have a huge impact on patients’ welfare, and federal pressure on medical cannabis is mounting!

ASA knows that the key to adopting and implementing good policy at the local, state, and federal level is having a trained and activated grassroots base in the community. There is no other way to make it happen. The ASA California Tour 2011 is a chance to reconnect with the grassroots campaign for safe access – or to get started fighting for patients’ rights for the first time. Don’t miss this great opportunity.

Mark your calendar today for the ASA California Tour 2011, and download flyers to invite your friends and loved ones to come with you! I look forward to seeing you in cities all over California this month.

Welcome to ASA 3.0 - 3 new bills in Congress, 3 new programs at ASA



Here at ASA we are fighting hard for patients’ rights, and this year we’re taking a whole new approach. We’re calling it ASA 3.0. We’ve been holding stakeholders’ meetings across the nation, and we designed this approach based on what you – local activists and patients – want and need.

We’ve developed a plan for improving safe access across the nation, but we need your help to make it happen. Can you commit just $1 a day to ASA’s important work? When you give to ASA, you are giving back to yourself because we build our strategies based on your needs.



We know you want to see change on the federal level, so we have been working diligently on the Hill. Today, we got results: Three new bills were introduced in the House of Representatives that would protect patients and providers. Ask your representative to sign on as a sponsor to these bills. It only takes a minute to make the call, and the impact you make is much more powerful than even the best-paying lobbyists.

The federal legislation is just the beginning. You asked for help with local and state legislation, so we created a Medical Cannabis Think Tank and Policy Shop. While state medical cannabis laws vary tremendously, the needs of patients remain consistent across the nation. Many regulations look good on paper, but their impact can be detrimental to the patients they seek to help. ASA’s Think Tank and Policy Shop provides local activists the support they need to analyze pending legislation and lobby for the best law possible.

You asked for support in developing your grassroots community, so we created the Online Training Center. If we are going to keep the safe access we have now and build on it, we will need fight at every level of the political spectrum. With over 4 ½  hours of video content and over 400 pages of instruction manuals and worksheets, the Online Training Center gives patients and patient advocates the tools they need to accomplish their goals.

Of course, state law provides little protection from the federal government. That’s why we’re vamping up our response to federal interference. We’re taking ASA’s proven raid response trainings across the nation and have released our new and improved our Raid Response Center to better prepare for interference across the country. (If you haven’t already, be sure you’re signed up for our Raid Alert Text Messages.)

Since federal interference is rooted in cannabis’ listing as a Schedule I drug, we continue to fight to remove cannabis from that list. This time, we’re taking the issue to the courts. ASA, as part of the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis, recently filed a lawsuit for the DEA’s unreasonable delay in responding to a rescheduling petition we submitted in 2002. Yes, it has been nine years, and the DEA has neglected to respond. Not only should this lawsuit force the DEA to respond to the petition, but it will provide the opportunity for us to highlight the disconnect between the federal government’s policies and science.

We’re excited about ASA 3.0, but we can’t do it alone. For just $1 a day, you can move ASA forward. That’s less than a cup of coffee – and that cup of coffee isn’t going to fight for your rights.

Commit to the movement. Commit $1 a day to ASA. See the results.

It’s coming … ASA’s new mobile application




 

Allowing you to stay in the know on the go

ASA on DOJ Pressure in the Huffington Post



From ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer in today's Huffington Post -
In February, Oakland City Attorney John Russo asked the Obama Justice Department whether his city's plan to regulate large-scale medical marijuana cultivation would get the approval of the federal government. As expected, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag responded to Russo with a declarative "No!" Little did patient advocates realize, though, that Haag's letter would begin a trend resulting in similar U.S. Attorney letters sent to local and state officials in at least 9 different medical marijuana states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Read the entire post online.

ASA Works to Build the Base in MT

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ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer testified before the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday in opposition to HB 161, a bill that would repeal the state’s six-year old medical cannabis law, before setting off on a three-day tour of the state.  Judiciary Committee members delayed a vote on the bill, which has already been approved by the full House of Representatives. ASA is opposing HB 161 to preserve access for patients in Montana, and calling on lawmakers there to properly regulate medical cannabis instead of repealing it.



Ms. Sherer is visiting cities around the state this weekend to hold stakeholder’s meetings to talk about how to push back on HB 161. Grassroots opposition to the bill is essential. Research and experience show that lawmakers are more likely to respond to a broad and genuine citizen’s movement than lobbyists in St. Helena. ASA works on the frontlines with patients and providers, because medical cannabis patients advocating for their own needs are the most effective advocates for their own rights. That is why ASA makes training and skills building priorities in our work.

We ignore the repeal effort in Montana at great risk to patients. Medical cannabis opponents are exploiting growing public ambivalence about medical cannabis nationwide, and this has a real impact on policies that effect patients’ welfare. Opponents are also trying to repeal medical cannabis laws in New Mexico and Oregon. Other states may follow.  This battle will take place at the local level, too, where cities and counties in the fifteen medical cannabis states consider ordinances that severely limit or prohibit safe access to medicine.

I hope you will support ASA in our efforts to build the powerful and effective grassroots movement to push back on opposition like what we are seeing in Montana – and to push forward in the work of protect and expanding patients’ rights nationwide.

Steph Sherer on Patient Privacy in the Huffington Post

ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer talks about the priority of medical cannabis patient privacy in state regulations. Read what she has to say about the proposed regulations in Colorado in "Patient Privacy Should be at the Heart of Medical Marijuana Regulations" -
This past November, Arizona became the 15th state to adopt a medical marijuana law. Even with medical marijuana laws in nearly a third of the country, ever-increasing scientific evidence of efficacy, and popular American support at over 80 percent, patients' rights are still threatened. As long as medical marijuana remains illegal under federal law, patients everywhere are vulnerable. In fact, the discordance between federal and state laws makes it especially important to protect the privacy of patients. This week, the Colorado Department of Revenue Licensing Authority will be hearing public comment on proposed regulations addressing recent amendments to the state's medical marijuana law. Leading up to these hearings, members of our organization in CO have reached out to us with legitimate concerns about their privacy as patients. Unfortunately, in the rush to regulate Colorado's burgeoning medical marijuana distribution system, it is the privacy rights of patients in particular that have so far been either ignored or disregarded. While there are many issues that the Department of Revenue must deal with, patient privacy should be at the forefront...
Read the entire article on today’s Huffington Post.

ASA in the Huffington Post

Online news giant Huffington Post published an outstanding op-ed by ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer this election morning, helping to bring our “Not Cooley” message to millions of Americans. This is an important message in California, where ASA and allies are urging voters to defeat anti-medical cannabis candidate Steve Cooley in his bid to be Attorney General. But it is also important nationwide. Elected officials need to know that medical cannabis patients and supporters are a political force to be reckoned with. High-profile media is an important part of that effort. Having Steph’s op-ed on a web site with an online readership bigger than both the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post is the way to get that coverage we need. Well done, Steph!