Pages tagged "Tom Ammiano"


California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is the wrong place for medicine

AB 1894, a bill by California Assembly Member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), is designed to better regulate commercial medical cannabis activity in California. That is long overdue, and Assembly Member Ammiano is to be commended on his leadership on the issue. Unfortunately, the bill would make cannabis the only medicine with regulations written and enforced by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), the same agency that enforces the state’s alcohol laws.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s leading medical cannabis patients’ advocacy organization, believes ABC is the wrong agency to entrust with decisions related to medical care and access. There are good reasons why ABC does not control the operation of pharmacies or the distribution of antibiotics. The enforcement-minded culture at ABC may lead to regulations that limit access to medical cannabis and do little or nothing to promote patient safety, quality control, clinical research, and patients’ rights. These health care issues are more typically addressed in other parts of the Department of Consumer Affairs or the Department of Public Health.  Furthermore, the deputized peace officers who enforce ABC’s regulations are in no way trained to address medical cannabis in the context of healthcare or inclined to respect patients’ needs; on the contrary, many may view it as controlling a vice.

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ASA California Roundup: April 14, 2014

Message from the CA Director - A New Medical Cannabis Bill in CA

California News

  • Medical-Marijuana Advocates Descend on Capitol Hill (National)
  • California Gets Stricter Medical Marijuana Regulations (California)
  • Marijuana: Another Contributor to California's Drought (California)
  • How medical marijuana is helping Californian children with epilepsy (California)
  • Vague state marijuana rules cost cities (California)
  • Medical marijuana supporters launch effort (Costa Mesa)
  • Medical marijuana activist sues Redondo police (Redondo Beach)
  • Marijuana addressed by Gridley City Council (Gridley)
  • Permit issued for Arnold medical collective (Calveras County)
  • Lathrop just says no to medical pot dispensaries (Lathrop)
  • Long Beach voters favor Measure A tax on medical marijuana (Long Beach)

Events

  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – San Diego Public Safety Committee Hearing (San Diego)
  • Saturday, April 19, 2014 – CBD Seminar (Grass Valley)
  • Monday, April 21, 2014 – CA Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee Hearing on SB 1262 (Sacramento)
  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – CA Assembly Public Safety Committee Hearing on AB 1894 (Sacramento)
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 – Medical Cannabis Forum with District Attorney Candidates (Sonoma)

Court Support

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 – Court Support for Ronnie Chang (San Diego)
  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Court Support for Taryn Hughey & Ryan Metroka (Oroville)
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Court Support for Joe Grumbine (Long Beach)

Take Action

  • National: Support HR 689 and HR 710
  • Join Americans for Safe Access (ASA)

ASA Website Spotlight

  • ASA Live

ASA CA Chapter Spotlight

  • San Francisco ASA

ASA Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

  • Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - San Francisco ASA (San Francisco)
  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - East Bay ASA (Oakland)
  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - Lake County ASA (Clearlake Oaks)
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ASA California Roundup: March 10, 2014

Contents:

Message from the CA Director - Flex your grassroots muscle... today!

California News

  • Marijuana news: California governor, worried about 'potheads,' is skeptical of legalized pot (California)
  • Medical marijuana bill limits who can prescribe pot (California)
  • Jailed For Medical Marijuana: California Man Gets 2 Years In Federal Prison For Managing Legal State Dispensary (California)
  • California Man Begins 2-Year Prison Term For Working At Legal Marijuana Dispensary (California)
  • Editorial: Long-overdue reforms for medical pot (California)
  • City of Chula Vista fighting to close illegal medical marijuana dispensaries (Chula Vista)
  • Medical marijuana patients accused of illegally growing at home turn down plea deal (Vista)
  • Outdoor marijuana grow ordinance up for debate; Planning Commission seeks public input before making changes (Humboldt County)
  • Cash shipment led to Mendocino pot dispensary raid (Mendocino County)
  • Two arrested, suspected in making 'honey oil,' causing Palm Springs home explosion (Palm Springs)

Events

  • Monday, March 10, 2014 – Livermore City Council Meeting (Livermore)
  • Monday, March 10, 2014 – Court Support for Heath Phillips (Sacramento)
  • Tuesday, March 11, 2014 – CA Assembly Public Safety Committee Hearing (Sacramento)
  • Thursday, March 13, 2014 – Weed City Council Meeting (Weed)
  • Thursday, March 13, 2014 – Court Support for Shelby Lucero (Sacramento)
  • Monday, March 17, 2014 – Court Support for Elias Tuvor (Stockton)
  • April 5-7, 2014 - The 2nd Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference (Washington, DC)

Take Action

  • Tell CA Lawmakers to Reject AB 1588
  • Join Americans for Safe Access (ASA)

ASA Website Spotlight

  • Press Releases
  • Free Online Services

ASA Merchandise

  • ASA Cloud Vaporizer Pen
  • ASA Condition-Specific Booklets for Kindle

ASA Chapter & Affiliate Meetings

  • Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - Nevada County ASA (North San Juan)
  • Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - Ventura ASA (Ventura)
  • Tuesday, March 11, 2014 – San Diego ASA (San Diego)
  • Thursday, March 13, 2014 – San Diego ASA (Imperial Beach)
  • Thursday, March 13, 2014 – Yuba County ASA (Foothills)
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New medical cannabis bills in California

Friday, February 21, was the deadline to introduce new bills for the 2014 legislative session in California. There are three bills that will be a priority for medical cannabis cultivators, patients, industry workers, and other stakeholders this year. Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s leading medical cannabis patients’ advocacy organization, has been talking with lawmakers, staff, and influential organizations in Sacramento about new legislation since last year. Now that the playing field is clear, we are ready to put our grassroots power to work.

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Win a Free Vapor Pen at Safe Access Night – San Francisco November 16

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Someone who comes to Safe Access Night at the San Francisco Bulls pro hockey game on Saturday, November 16, will win a free ASA Cloud Vaporizer Pen! The Vape Cloud limited edition vaporizer pen has an ASA-logo, comes in our signature color, and has a lifetime guarantee. Someone will get this $70 value for free on Saturday night. Will it be you?

Buy your tickets for Safe Access Night at the San Francisco Bulls game on November 16 right now. A portion of the proceeds will benefit ASA’s important medical cannabis campaigns.

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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.


The fight for regulations in CA goes on



Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and our allies have been fighting for medical cannabis regulations to protect safe access to medicine and patients’ rights since 2002, and we are going to keep fighting that important battle despite a setback today. Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF) has withdrawn AB2312, a bill that would have created a state board to regulate medical cannabis cultivation and provision. That means AB 2312 will not proceed to a vote by the full Senate this year.

We have come a long way towards passing this bill, and our growing coalition of allies is poised to move forward at the ballot box or in the legislature next year. Polls show that 77% of Californians support regulation and control of medical cannabis, and AB 2312 had some influential support. UFCW National Medical Cannabis and Hemp Division, UFCW  Western States Council, UFCW Local 5, the AFL-CIO, and the California Medical Association all supported the bill.


Research conducted by ASA and sixteen years of experience show that sensible regulations for medical cannabis preserve community-based access for patients, while reducing crime and complaints around cooperatives and collectives. Although more than fifty localities in California have adopted such regulations, a lack of state leadership has stymied further implementation of the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420) in communities statewide. Uncertainty led to calls from the courts, the California Attorney General, and local lawmakers for leadership and clarity. AB 2312 would have helped answer those calls by securing safe, well-regulated access all over California.

We made it further this year than anyone thought we would. No one expected this bill to be approved by two committees and the full Assembly. The credit for that goes, in large part, to more than 300 ASA members and allies who visited every legislative office in the Capitol on May 21st, as part of the biggest medical cannabis lobby day in California history. Those citizen advocates were talking with lawmakers and staff just days before crucial votes on AB 2312, and their voices made all the difference.

Many good bills take more than a year to pass. We can definitely use a few extra months to improve this bill for next year. We need to be sure that taxation, if necessary, is limited; and we have to make it difficult (or impossible) for cities and counties to ban patients’ associations outright. We also have a lot of work to do to build support among legislators and constituents. And given that many people fear statewide regulation, we can use this extra time to keep talking about the benefits and drawbacks of a state model, in hopes of broadening the reform coalition. We must also decide whether the voter initiative process is a sound strategy in California, and if We can we agree on the content and raise the money we need to get on the ballot in 2013 or 2014.

I want all of you to be a part of that ongoing conversation about what comes next in California. Please sign up for ASA’s announcement lists, participate in our Discussion Forums, and follow our blog.

I want to say a very special thank you to our allies at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana – United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 5, California NORML, Emerald Growers Association, and the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform. You guys did a great job! I also want to say a special thank you to Assemblymember Tom Amnmiano and his staff for their hard work and patience. And most of all, thank you to the thousands of ASA members and friends who wrote letters, sent emails, signed petitions, visited lawmakers, and donated generously to this effort. That is what it takes to get this work done!

CA Assembly Approves Landmark Medical Cannabis Bill

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The California Assembly just approved AB 2312, a bill by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-SF) that will create a statewide board to regulate medical cannabis. The Senate will take up the bill next. Advocates are thrilled, and vow to build on this momentum to make sure the bill is also approved in the Senate and signed by Governor Brown. The campaign to adopt AB 2312 has already seen a dramatic expansion in the coalition for medical cannabis, including the influential United Food and Commercial Workers Union, and the largest medical cannabis citizen lobby day in state history.

Assemblymember Ammiano introduced AB 2312 in response to growing calls for statewide clarity from elected officials and the courts. The public wants legislation like this, too. A poll conducted by EMC research shows that 77% of Californians support the regulation, control, and taxation of cannabis. The nine-member appointed board created by the bill will be charged with developing, implementing, and enforcing statewide regulations – something that is already underway in other states where medical cannabis is legal. The Author and advocates anticipate that greater consistency will help to address ambivalence about the state’s medical cannabis program and prevent local officials from blocking implementation or calling for federal intervention.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and coalition members are proud of the growing support and increased grassroots participation in the campaign for AB 2312. We call on everyone who supported this important bill to keep working to make needed improvements and get the bill passed by the Senate. And we call on those who are undecided or oppose (including misinformed lawmakers) to take another look.

Thank you to the thousands of you who called, emailed, and wrote in support of AB 2312. And thank you to the hundreds of you who participated in our Citizen Lobby Day on May 21. We would not have made it this far without you. I also want to say a special that you to our partners at Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana, Assemblymember Amminao, and his staff, who all worked tirelessly to pass this bill.

Don Duncan is ASA's California Director.

California State, Local Elected Officials Blast Federal Attacks on Medical Marijuana



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier this month, in response to federal attacks by California’s U.S. Attorneys, several local and state officials spoke out against the aggressive interference in their medical marijuana laws. State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) held a press conference with patients and advocacy groups, including Americans for Safe Access. The message was clear: the federal government must “stand down.”

On October 19th, Senator Leno stated the following:
I urge the federal government to stand down in its massive attack on medical marijuana dispensaries, which will have devastating impacts for the state of California. At a time when resources are precious and few, federal officials have chosen to waste time and money in an ambush that will harm countless patients who will no longer be able to safely access doctor-prescribed treatments. Our federal dollars, especially during a down economy, would be better spent on activities and programs that save jobs and help people in need. Instead, this ill-timed offensive would have no positive impacts on our state and would only force more Californians into unemployment.

Assembly member Ammiano also declared that:
Instead of supporting state efforts to effectively regulate medical marijuana in accordance with Prop 215, the Obama administration seems committed to re-criminalizing it. This destructive attack on medical marijuana patients is a waste of limited law enforcement resources and will cost the state millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives. I urge President Obama to reconsider this bad policy decision and respect California's right to provide medicine to its residents.

In a separate statement, State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) also blasted the decision to shut down licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in the city:
Medical marijuana dispensaries are helping our economy, creating jobs, and most importantly, providing a necessary service for suffering patients. There are real issues and real problems that the US Attorney’s Office should be focused on rather than using their limited resources to prosecute legitimate businesses or newspapers. Like S-Comm, our law enforcement agencies – both state and local – should not assist in this unnecessary action. Shutting down state-authorized dispensaries will cost California billions of dollars and unfairly harm thousands of lives.

Most recently, California Attorney General Kamala Harris spoke out against the recent federal crackdown:
Californians overwhelmingly support the compassionate use of medical marijuana for the ill. … While there are definite ambiguities in state law that must be resolved either by the state legislature or the courts, an overly broad federal enforcement campaign will make it more difficult for legitimate patients to access physician-recommended medicine in California. I urge the federal authorities in the state to adhere to the United States Department of Justice’s stated policy and focus their enforcement efforts on ‘significant traffickers of illegal drugs.

Even local officials are speaking up. Mendocino County Supervisor John McCowen called the federal raid on a medical marijuana collective licensed by the county, “outrageous.” Supervisor McCowen said in a written statement, “if the federal government truly wants to protect public safety,” it should change its strategy of:
[R]aiding medical marijuana growers who are doing everything they can to operate in full compliance with state and local law.

Perhaps the feds should take heed, lest more officials from across the state speak up in defense of patients and state law.

Elected Officials Push Back Against Threats by DOJ Over Medical Marijuana



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday, President Obama’s Justice Department (DOJ) made clear its motivations to disrupt and undermine California’s medical marijuana laws. However, advocates argue that last week’s announcement by the state’s four U.S. Attorneys, which included threats against property owners, comes after months of aggressive DOJ attacks in several medical marijuana states. SWAT-style raids and threats of criminal prosecution against local and state officials has become emblematic of Obama’s policy on medical marijuana, a far cry from his pledge on the campaign trail that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.”

Yet, just as Obama’s confusing war on medical marijuana has reached a fever pitch, condemnation could be heard from several state and federal officials in California. Some state legislators and members of Congress are refusing to be intimidated by this latest round of threats from the federal government. Congressional members Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), as well as State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) all decried the recent DOJ announcement in California.

In a statement issued to Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Congressman Rohrabacher called the DOJ effort “a waste of scarce federal resources.” In a separate statement issued to ASA, Congressman Farr had this to say:
Medical cannabis continues to be prescribed by physicians to patients suffering from painful and serious illnesses, as a means to minimize their pain and support their recovery. For that reason it is important that patients continue to have safe access to the medication they need. California has adopted clear regulations that allow patients to do just that, it is unfortunate that the Federal Government has decided to target these legal vendors instead of focusing those resources on those who sell illicit drugs.

State Senator Mark Leno told the Los Angeles Times that the DOJ strategy was a waste of precious resources at a time of fiscal crisis:
They’re wasting money they don’t have. This is not the issue of the day. This doesn’t create jobs. This does not keep the security of the nation intact. It doesn’t clean the environment. If anything, they should be demonstrating leadership in resolving the conflict between federal and state laws. Until we deal with that, we’re going to be going around in circles here.

Assembly member Tom Ammiano had perhaps the strongest words of condemnation in a press release issued shortly after the DOJ press conference on Friday. Ammiano said that the attack on medical marijuana would cost the state “millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives.”
I am bitterly disappointed in the Obama Administration for this unwarranted and destructive attack on medical marijuana and patients’ rights to medicine.  [Friday’s] announcement by the Department of Justice means that Obama’s medical marijuana policies are worse than Bush and Clinton.  It’s a tragic return to failed policies that will cost the state millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives. 16 states along with the District of Columbia have passed medical marijuana laws -- whatever happened to the promises he made on the campaign trail to not prosecute medical marijuana or the 2009 DOJ memo saying that states with medical marijuana laws would not be prosecuted?  Change we can believe in?  Instead we get more of the same.

Notably, Congressman Rohrabacher’s statement had a prescriptive solution:
[The DOJ announcement] underscores the need for Congress to pass H.R. 1983, the States’ Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act.

He’s right. People across the country should contact their member of Congress and urge them to pass H.R. 1983, a bill that would reclassify medical marijuana and allow states to develop, implement and enforce their own laws without interference from the federal government.