Holds Hearing on Medical Marijuana
ASA testifies on behalf of patients
officials in Washington, D.C. are shaping legislation
to make medical marijuana available to patients there,
after Congress lifted a ban on implementing a 1998 initiative
in the District.
D.C. resident and Executive Director of Americans for
Safe Access Steph Sherer was among the patients and advocates
who appeared before the council at a hearing this month
to explain why they should use care in restricting access
to medical marijuana.
lot of regulations look good on paper but don't really
help patients," Sherer told the members of the council's
judiciary and public health committees. She urged the
council not to limit patients to receiving recommendations
only from their primary care physicians, explaining that
chronically ill patients frequently see many specialists,
and those that specialize in cannabis therapies are no
The D.C. council is wrestling with regulatory amendments
for implementing Initiative 59, which was approved directly
by District voters. In addition to restrictions on who
can write recommendations for medical cannabis, officials
are considering limiting what conditions patients could
be treated for, who will be permitted to work in dispensaries,
and where the cannabis would be cultivated.
Officials have said they are concerned because any legislative
action taken by the council must be approved by Congress.
Council Chairman Vincent Gray co-introduced the proposed
legislation with council members David Catania and Phil
"This is a great first step, and we are confident
that after hearing from patients in the District, the
Council will make the necessary improvements," said
D.C. legislation to implement I-59
of I-59, as passed in 1998.
May Be 15th Medical Cannabis State
Advocates and patients testify before state lawmakers
Patients and advocates testified before Maryland state
legislators this month in support of new legislation to
make medical marijuana legal in the state. The hearings
of the House Judiciary Committee and Health and Government
Operations Committee addressed concerns about the proposed
applaud the Maryland legislature for recognizing the need
to protect medical marijuana patients," said Caren
Woodson, ASA Government Affairs Director. "But this
bill falls short of meeting the fundamental needs of patients."
The proposed measure -- HB712, introduced by Maryland
House Delegate Dan Morhaim, M.D. -- would replace the
state's current medical marijuana law, the Darrel Putnam
Compassionate Use Act, which was adopted in 2003. Existing
law provides for patients who use and possess cannabis
for medical treatment to receive misdemeanor convictions
with maximum fines of $100.
The new legislation would put the state's health department
in charge of the medical marijuana program, including
the licensing of patients, caregivers, large-scale growers,
and distributors. Patients would b e prohibited from cultivating
any cannabis themselves and could only legally possess
two ounces or less of medicine.
new proposed medical marijuana law HB712
Legislative Memo re: Maryland proposed law
Putnam Compassionate Use Act (current law)
Argues Against Dispensary Bans in Calif.
State Senator files brief in support
a case with profound implications for safe access in
California, new briefs were filed with a state appeals
court this month, arguing that local governments cannot
legally impose bans on medical cannabis dispensaries.
Americans for Safe Access and State Senator Mark Leno
both told the court in their filings that the law adopted
by the legislature bars city and county officials from
using nuisance statutes to prevent cannabis from being
distributed through retail storefront locations. Senator
leno co-authored California's 2003 Medical Marijuana
Program Act (SB 420) when he was an Assemblymember.
"The City of Anaheim cannot hide behind federal
law," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who argued
the case before the court in September. "Local
governments cannot simply ban an activity that has been
deemed lawful by the state."
Although more than 40 California localities have adopted
ordinances regulating medical marijuana dispensing collectives,
or dispensaries, more than 120 cities have permanently
banned such activity. A decision is expected within
the next two months.
Leno's amicus brief on legislative intent
amicus brief on nuisance statutes
ASA amicus brief in Anaheim case
of dispensary regulations and bans in California
Files Suit Over Dispensary Rules in LA
rules on where medical cannabis dispensaries can operate
in the city of Los Angeles have prompted Americans for
Safe Access to file suit against the city.
Once the new ordinance takes effect in LA, dispensaries
will have to be at least 1,000 feet from schools, parks,
libraries, churches and other "sensitive uses,"
and cannot abut or be across the street from any residence.
Those dispensaries operating in locations that do not
comply with the buffer zoneswhich is all but a handfulwould
only have seven days to find a new location, but the restrictions
exclude the majority of the city's commercial areas.
suit on behalf of two of the dispensaries, Venice Beach
Care Center and PureLife Alternative Wellness, says this
violates due process protections.
"Requiring patient collectives that have been operating
for years to move on a week's notice is already unreasonable,"
said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford. "To then prevent
them for relocating to virtually any area of the city,
and without providing them with maps of where they can
operate, is simply outrageous. This is a de facto ban."
Despite taking more than two years to develop regulations,
the city council imposed the new rules without seeing
maps of where the location restrictions would permit dispensaries
filed by Americans for Safe Access
of Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensary ordinance.
Marijuana Week a National Success
Now in its eighth year, Americans for Safe Access' Medical
Marijuana Awareness Week has become a national phenomenon,
with events designed to raise awareness of medical cannabis
issues. Medical Marijuana Week is scheduled each year
for the week including February 15, in recognition of
California's Proposition 215, the nation's first law permitting
therapeutic use of cannabis.
Events spanned the country, from California and Washington
to Oklahoma and Florida. Here are a few highlights from
ASA chapters and affiliates:
In Birmingham, Alabama, Alabamians for Compassionate Care
and Alabama NORML kicked off Medical Marijuana Week with
a celebration that included a pot luck dinner, fellowship,
speakers, and a march through town."
In Olympia, Washington, the Olympia Patient Resource Center
held a seminar on "Learn to Grow Medical Marijuana."
In Sunrise, Florida, People United For Medical Marijuana
hosted a potluck rally to strengthen ties within the community
and then gathered signatures in support of a medical cannabis
law in Florida.
In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Compassionate Care Campaign
organized patients and activists to meet with their state
representatives in support of new legislation being offered.
The campaign provided volunteers to support all who participated.
In Napa, California, activists held a free seminar on
"Understanding the Legal and Safety Aspects of Responsibly
Using Medical Cannabis" at the public library to
educate the community about the history of cannabis, legal
information, and safety standards.
The ASA chapter in San Francisco held their Annual Seed
Planting at City Hall. The event featured snacks and singing
leading up to the symbolic seed planting at 2:15 pm. ASA
San Francisco closed out the week with a fundraising party.
Also in San Francisco, Greenway held meetings in two locations
on separate days with Dr. Melissa Soriano as a featured
speaker, and such special guests as former San Francisco
District Attorney Terence Hallinan.
Across the Bay in Richmond, California, Seven Stars held
a patient appreciation party to benefit ASA with a movies,
a DJ, food, and patient grab bags. In San Jose, California,
the Silicon Valley chapter of ASA also held a fun fundraiser,
and Sacramento ASA hosted a mixer for patients that included
door prizes, music, raffles and refreshments.
In Oakland, the ASA staff hosted a volunteer day that
let activists get to know the ASA office staff and volunteers.
Also in Oakland, Oaksterdam University held a fundraiser
featuring fun games, with half the proceeds benefiting
"This was the most successful year ever," said
ASA Field Director Sanjeev Bery, who coordinated events
with ASA chapters and affiliates throughout the U.S. "The
grassroots energy across the country is inspiring action
at all levels, and this week is a great way to focus it
for the year ahead."
Report on State-Funded Studies
Six completed clinical trials show cannabis effective
series of 14 studies of medical marijuana funded by
the state of California has confirmed that the drug
is uniquely effective for relieving neuropathic pain
and reducing muscle spasms, among other conditions.
"This report further confirms the claims of ASA's
Data Quality Act petition," said ASA Government
Affairs Director Caren Woodson. "The law requires
the federal government to acknowledge the science and
admit that marijuana has medical uses."
The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research issued a
report on the 10-year program as part of its mandate
by the state legislature, which established the center
to fund and coordinate research at campuses of the University
of California. Results of only five of the 14 studies
have been published to date, with a sixth completed
but not yet published. The remaining studies have not
yet been completed.
Pain relief was the focus of many of the double-blind
placebo-controlled studies in the $8.7-million research
effort. Two showed that smoked cannabis was effective
for hard-to-treat pain in HIV patients. One demonstrated
that cannabis is effective for relieving neuropathic
pain related to spinal cord injuries and other conditions.
Another study found that higher doses of cannabis produced
more relief in subjects who had pain induced via chemical
The fifth study compared smoking cannabis to the use of
a vaporization device, which subjects found effective
and preferable to smoking.
The sixth completed study, which has not been published,
found that smoked marijuana reduced spasticity and associated
pain for patients with multiple sclerosis.
The studies published to date appeared in the peer-reviewed
journals Neurology, Neuropsychopharmacology, Journal
of Pain, Anesthesiology, and Clinical Pharmacology
Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research report.