Lays Out National Strategy to Win
Plan to Secure Safe Access for All Patients by 2013
This month, Americans for Safe Access is unveiling
a new, three-year national plan for expanding safe access
to medical cannabis. The multi-prong strategy for creating
support at local, state and federal levels will be the
centerpiece of "Preparing for Victory," a
special series of workshops April 17-18 in Warwick,
has worked with our lobbyists in DC and some of the
sharpest legal minds in the country to develop a strategy
to secure safe access nationally by 2003," said
Steph Sherer, ASA Executive Director. "We're excited
to share our plan to both fully implement state programs
and establish a compassionate federal policy. There
are roles for so many committed individuals and groups
as we expand our successful grassroots efforts, build
new coalitions with other advocacy groups, and pursue
high-impact legal actions."
The workshops, which will help advocates build the political
and strategic skills to make safe access a reality for
patients everywhere in the country, follow the Sixth
National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics,
which is being held April 15-17 in Warwick.
The national clinical conference, hosted by Patients
Out of Time, includes a keynote address by the scientist
who identified THC, Raphael Mechoulam, Ph.D., of Hebrew
University in Israel, and a teleconference presentation
by noted author and champion of holistic medicine Andrew
Weil, M.D. The conference is part of a Continuing Medical
Education series, partnering with the University of
"At the clinical conference, you will learn the
science behind medical marijuana," said ASA Field
Director Sanjeev Bery. "At ASA's workshops, you
will build the political skills for securing safe access."
In addition to the workshops following the national
clinical conference, ASA will be sharing key elements
of the strategy with its membership through a series
of weekly briefing emails this month.
now for ASA's Preparing for Victory workshops.
Chapters and Affiliates Taking Action for Safe Access
ASA's chapters and affiliates across
the country are busy with organizing and advocating on
behalf of patients and caregivers in their areas. A few
of the recent highlights of their activities include political
lobbying in Michigan, California and Pennsylvania; signature
gathering for an expansion of access in Oregon; and educating
the community in New Jersey about the new state law.
On the grassroots lobbying front, in California the Silicon
Valley ASA chapter has been organizing to convince the
San Jose City Council to push forward an ordinance that
would allow medicinal cannabis collectives to have storefront
locations in that area. Patients and advocates attended
the council meeting on March 30 to make their case.
In Michigan, the Metro Detroit ASA chapter has been engaging
in lobbying and grass tops political activities with key
politicians and opinion leaders, working closely with
the Michigan ACLU, MPP and the Michigan Medical Marijuana
Association on a statewide level. The Greater Flint ASA
chapter, which has over 50 active members, has been more
focused on grass roots activities in Michigan's Tri-City
area of Flint, Bay City and Saginaw. The patient and caregiver
community has been peacefully thriving in that area of
the state, thanks to the excellent working relationship
Flint ASA has developed with the Gennesse County Prosecutor.
In Pennsylvania, ASA affiliate Pennsylvanians for Medical
Marijuana is working to push forward House Bill 1393,
the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, which would
allow patients and caregivers to cultivate and possess
limited amounts of cannabis and establish state-licensed
dispensaries. The group is holding a fundraiser on April
20 and a lobbying day in Harrisburg on April 21 so patients
and advocates can visit their representatives. The House
bill is awaiting a hearing before the Health and Human
Services committee; a Senate version of the bill is expected
sometime in May.
In New Jersey, the Coalition for Medical Marijuana--New
Jersey (CMMNJ), an ASA affiliate, sponsored an informational
town hall meeting to educate the community on the state's
new medical cannabis law, which took effect in January.
The "New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana
Act" allows patients with qualifying conditions to
possess and use of up to two ounces of marijuana a month
with the recommendation of a licensed. Patients fighting
such conditions as cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and
Crohn's disease can receive ID cards from the New Jersey
Department of Health and Senior Services that will allow
them to obtain cannabis from state-licensed Alternative
Treatment Centers by July 2010. CMMNJ holds open, public
meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at the Lawrence
Twp. Library; the next meeting will be April 13.
In Oregon, ASA affiliate Voter Power is collecting signatures
to qualify a medical marijuana initiative for the November
ballot. Initiative 28 would create a system of state-regulated
dispensaries and state-licensed medical marijuana producers.
Dispensaries would have to be Oregon nonprofits and pay
both a $2,000 license fee and a 10% tax on gross sales.
Licensed producers would have to pay a $1,000 fee and
the 10% tax. State-approved patients would be able to
buy their supplies at any dispensary, and dispensaries
would be able to buy from any licensed producer.
"The law works well for you if you live on a farm
or can network with other patients, but if you're terminally
ill in a hospice, you might be out of luck," said
John Sajo of Voter Power, which also spearheaded the Oregon
Medical Marijuana Act in 1998. "We'd like to do it
like California, where patients can go to a dispensary
and have myriad choices."
Advocates in Oregon need to submit 82,769 valid signatures
by July 2 to make the November ballot. Organizers say
they have over 90,000 signatures already and intend to
file more than 120,000 by the end of May, leaving time
to collect more if an unusually large number are ruled
Cannabis Law Enacted then Suspended
District Council Working on Regulations for Safe Access
medical cannabis initiative in Washington, D.C. passed
its mandatory 30-day Congressional review period last
month but was immediately suspended by the local District
Council so they can complete regulations for implementing
the new law.
Initiative 59, known as the Legalization of Marijuana
for Medical Treatment Initiative, was approved by 69%
of voters in 1998 but blocked by Congress from taking
effect then. That ban was lifted earlier this year.
"We're extremely pleased that Congress finally decided
to allow the District of Columbia's medical marijuana
law to take effect," said Nikolas Schiller from the
D.C. chapter of ASA."We're also anxious to see the
District Council quickly establish regulations that will
grant voter-approved rights to patients, which have been
denied for far too long."
The local moratorium follows a hearing last month on proposed
amendments co-introduced by District Council Chairman
Vincent C. Gray (D) and Councilmembers David A. Catania
(I-At Large) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large).
"The District Council needs to consider regulations
from the patient perspective," said ASA Executive
Director Steph Sherer, who is a DC resident. "Patients
are not served by only allowing primary care physicians
to recommend medical marijuana, limiting patients to a
single caregiver, relegating dispensaries to remote areas,
or jeopardizing sensitive patient information."
Once the Council adopts regulations, the law will undergo
a second 30-day Congressional review period, as required
under the Home Rule Act.
moratorium passed by D.C. Council
D.C. legislation to implement I-59
of I-59, as passed in 1998
Marijuana Bill Goes to Maryland Senate
Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Measure 7-4
The Maryland Senate Judiciary Committee sent to the full
senate a bill that would expand the states medical
cannabis law. By a margin of 7-4, the committee adopted
provisions to protect patients from arrest and prosecution
and reclassify cannabis as a Schedule II drug with accepted
ASA advocates were among those who helped convince committee
members that they need to fix their states medical
Maryland legislature recognizes patients should not be
treated like criminals," said Caren Woodson, ASA
Government Affairs Director. "We are working to make
sure they understand what it takes to meet the real needs
The new bill would make the states health department
responsible for a medical marijuana program that would
include licensing patients, caregivers, cultivators and
Maryland's current medical marijuana law reduces penalties
for patients who present evidence of medical use in court
to a $100 fine, but does not prevent them from being arrested,
prosecuted or convicted.
A vote on Senate Bill 627 is expected within a week. The
bill is a companion to House Bill 712, which was introduced
by House Delegate Dan Morhaim M.D. If the senate bill
passes, it will go to the House Rules Committee for consideration.
Legislative Memo re: Maryland proposed law
Putnam Compassionate Use Act (current law)
ALERT: Tell Sen. Leahy to Challenge the DEA
As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy
will conduct the confirmation hearings for Acting DEA Administrator Michele
Leonhart. President Obama has nominated Michele Leonhart to be the new
administrator of the DEA.
Please urge Senator Leahy to aggressively question Ms. Leonhart about
recent DEA medical marijuana raids.
Over the past two months, the DEA has raided medical marijuana laboratories
and cultivators in Colorado and Hawaii. To make matters worse, the federal
government has assisted local law enforcement in dozens of other raids
in California, Colorado, and Michigan.
1. Email Senator Leahy today: AmericansForSafeAccess.org/AskLeahy
2. Make April 19th a day of action! Plan to meet at your local federal
courthouse or other federal offices to protest the raids and hold the
DEA accountable. If you live in Vermont or Washington, D.C., plan a lobby
day to visit Senator Leahy's staff in person to urge that Leonhart be
questioned about her recent actions against patients.