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Pain Relief Network's Siobhan Reynolds Killed in Plane Crash

Prominent pain patient advocate and Pain Relief Network founder Siobhan Reynolds, 50, was killed in a plane crash on Christmas Eve day. She was one of three people aboard a small private plane attempting to land at an Ohio airport that afternoon. The plane missed the runway and instead crashed on a parallel road, killing all aboard.

For the last decade, Reynolds had been a fierce advocate for patients suffering chronic pain and the doctors who attempted to treat them with high-dose opioid pain medication protocols. She came to be an advocate through personal tragedy -- her husband, a chronic pain patient, died as the family moved cross-country seeking effective relief for him.

But Reynolds turned her personal tragedy into activism of the highest sort, founding the Pain Relief Network to advocate for an effective response to the under-treatment of pain in this county. She was present for the trial of Northern Virginia pain management pioneer Dr. William Hurwitz, a trial I attended and where we first met. Hurwitz was convicted of being a drug dealer and imprisoned, an injustice that only deepened Reynolds' fire for justice.

She and the Pain Relief Network played a central role in winning freedom for Richard Paey, the wheelchair-bound pain patient sentenced to 25 years in state prison, and that was just one of her many interventions in the DEA's war pain doctors. Where the DEA saw only "pill mills" and Dr. Feelgoods, Reynolds saw the effectiveness with which high-dose opioid theory brought relief to suffering people.

Her feisty and tireless advocacy brought her into direct conflict with the DEA and federal prosecutors, most notably in the case of Kansas pain clinic owner Dr. Steven Scheider, who was charged with over-prescribing pain pills, and his wife, Linda, a nurse who was charged along with him. When Reynolds set up shop in Kansas to publicize the case and the issues and lend support to the Schneiders, Assistant US Attorney Tanya Treadway opened a criminal investigation into Reynolds and the Pain Relief Network, seeking, among other things, all of Reynolds' email, phone records, and other communications with doctors, patients, and attorneys.

As always, Reynolds fought back against the feds, and, in a shameful episode in American jurisprudence, she lost -- and worse. Not only was she forced to comply with Treadway's subpoena, but Treadway and the federal courts conspired to hide the whole sordid episode from public view. The ruling in the case has never been published, nor are the briefs available for scrutiny. Reynolds was even barred from sharing the briefs she submitted with the press.

That ruling was the last straw for the Pain Relief Network, which Reynolds announced was being dissolved a year ago. But not for Reynolds. I spoke with her earlier this year, and she was planning to form another pain advocacy organization. It is our loss that she never got the chance.

Siobhan Reynolds wasn't always easy to work with because she was a true believer in her issue. She was impatient with potential allies who were not willing to go as far as she was, whether they were physicians groups or academics or drug reformers. She wanted the Controlled Substances Act abolished as an abomination, and if you weren't ready to go there, she didn't really want to waste her time with you. But sometimes a movement needs a determined, fiery-eyed idealist. Siobhan Reynolds was that person for the movement against the under-treatment of chronic pain.

McArthur, OH
United States

Pain Patients Lose a Leading Advocate, Siobhan Reynolds, 1961-2011

Siobhan Reynolds (left) at 2004 Congressional briefing, with Dr. Frank Fisher, Ron Libby and Maia Szalavitz (photo courtesy PRN)
My friend and colleague Siobhan Reynolds, founder of the Pain Relief Network (PRN), died in a plane crash this weekend outside Columbus, Ohio. The pilot of the plane, her partner Kp Byers, was also a pain activist, an attorney whose practice had focused since 1992 on defending medical professionals caught in the crosshairs of the drug war. Radley Balko has written an extensive tribute to Siobhan, online here. So does Jacob Sullum at Reason.

As Radley has noted and as many others will doubtless note, Siobhan's work organizing media and legal support for patients, doctors, pharmacists and nurses was a courageous one. An article in the New York Times last year by Adam Liptak shows the degree to which prosecutors and even some judges felt threatened by the scrutiny Siobhan and PRN had drawn to their handling of certain cases, and the lengths to which they were willing to abuse legal process to shut her down. Perhaps the daring of riding in a small plane is a mirror of the daring she showed in her career taking on the government.

PRN did shut down last year, the organization's financial resources and Siobhan's own resources depleted by the struggle. But Siobhan was working on forming a new patient advocacy organization, Radley noted. I hope that others will take up that torch in her name. The under-prescribing of opiates to many patients who need them, and the injustice of lengthy mandatory minimum drug sentences being leveled at doctors and others over prescribing practices that at worst are debatable, is one of the most challenging problems in the drug war to take on. There is far too little help -- medical, advocacy, or otherwise -- for the people most deeply affected. Among those people were her husband, the late Sean Greenwood.

The Pain Relief Network still has an online presence, and its home page provides Siobhan's reasons for the organization's closure and her hopes of what could happen in the future. Our own web site has an archive devoted to the pain under-treatment issue, much of the material in it about Siobhan's work.  Also, Siobhan wrote several articles this year on prohibition and the drug war's impact on the doctor-patient relationship, the articles linked to from her web site.

Last but not least, in the YouTube video posted below, "Being Unable to Help," Siobhan talks about what was impossible to do for her husband in the current medical and legal environment. Share it widely.

 

13th Annual Students for Sensible Drug Policy International Conference

Hi David,

I know you're eager for more details about SSDP's 13th Annual International Conference, and since you've been to one of our previous conferences, I wanted to make sure you got first access to vital information about this once-in-a-lifetime event. 

Early bird registration
Register today to take advantage of significantly discounted early bird registration rates. 

  • $45 - Students
  • $65 - Alumni
  • $95 - Non-students

Fees will increase on January 2, 2012. Included in each registration will be four meals (breakfast and lunch will be provided during both days of the conference), a tote bag, name tag and conference program.


Call for session proposals

SSDP wants this event to be the biggest, best conference yet, so we've decided to open a call or proposals for folks like you to come up with ideas for workshops, panels, talks, meetups, or other programming for us to consider including as part of SSDP2012.

More details and proposal submission form here.

Scholarships

Each year, SSDP establishes a scholarship fund to help make it affordable for our student activists to attend our national conference. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to our SSDP2012 Scholarship Fund today. Last SSDP conference, we were able to award 165 student scholarships and we hope to be able to help even more this year! 

Students can learn more about scholarship opportunities and how to apply here. 

And more...

Check out the ssdp.org/conference for exhibiting opportunities, sponsoring the event, location information, frequently asked questions, and more.  Details and more information will be posted at ssdp.org/conference as well as on our blog, the Dare Generation Diary. You can also find this event on Facebook. Questions should be directed to conference@ssdp.org.

See you in Denver!

Best,

Stacia Cosner

Associate Director

 

WHO

Hundreds of SSDP chapter leaders, members, alumni, and supporters of drug policy reform from all over the world.

WHAT

SSDP2012: The 13th Annual International Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference

WHERE

Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center
7800 East Tufts Avenue
Denver, CO 80237
Reserve your room using the SSDP discount here.

WHEN

March 24-25, 2012

WHY

To gather hundreds of individuals who know there are alternatives to the failed war on drugs and want to do something about it. The weekend will include expert panels, guest speakers, an awards ceremony, networking events, an alumni reunion, SSDP Congress, and more.

 

 


     

Students for Sensible Drug Policy
1317 F Street NW Suite 501, Washington, DC 20004 - (202)393-5280 - www.ssdp.org

Thanks for your support
You received this email because you are one of more than 100,000 people who support Students for Sensible Drug Policy and subscribe to our e-list. Please help us grow our grassroots movement to end the failed War on Drugs by inviting family and friends to join.

Date: 
Thu, 11/24/2011 - 10:00am - Fri, 11/25/2011 - 4:00pm
Location: 
Denver, CO
United States

Cedars-Sinai Denying Transplant to Medical Marijuana Patient with Inoperable Liver Cancer

PRESS RELEASE

Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release:
November 17, 2011
Contact: ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes

Cedars-Sinai Denying Transplant to Medical Marijuana Patient with Inoperable Liver Cancer
Patient advocacy group calls on preeminent health center to change harmful transplant policy

Los Angeles, CA -- Sixty-three year-old medical marijuana patient Norman B. Smith was diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer in 2009 and sought treatment from the internationally lauded Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Smith's oncologist at Cedars-Sinai, Dr. Steven Miles, approved of his medical marijuana use as a means to deal with the effects of chemotherapy and pain from an unrelated back surgery. In September 2010, Smith became eligible for a liver transplant, but after testing positive for marijuana in February he was removed from the transplant list. Smith's cancer was in remission until just recently, but now he is scheduled to undergo radiation treatments in the next few days.

Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) issued a letter today urging the Cedars-Sinai Transplant Department to promptly re-list Smith for a liver transplant. The letter also urges Cedars-Sinai to change its transplant eligibility policy. "Denying necessary transplants to medical marijuana patients is the worst kind of discrimination," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who also authored the letter to Cedars-Sinai. "Cedars-Sinai would not be breaking any laws, federal or otherwise, by granting Norman Smith a liver transplant, and it's certainly the ethical thing to do."

Smith is not the only medical marijuana patient in the U.S. being denied a transplant. At least one other Cedars-Sinai patient reported to ASA in 2008 that they had been kicked off the transplant list because of their legal medical marijuana use. Over the past four years, ASA has received numerous reports of patients being purged from transplant lists across California, as well as in other medical marijuana states like Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. In 2008, Seattle resident and medical marijuana patient Timothy Garon died after being denied a liver transplant by the University of Washington Medical Center. A year later, in 2009, Big Island resident and medical marijuana patient Kimberly Reyes died at Hilo Hospital after being denied a liver transplant.

Cedars-Sinai is demanding that Smith not only abstain from marijuana use for at least six months, forcing him to undergo random toxicology tests, but he is also required to participate in weekly substance abuse counseling over the same period. Although Smith was within two months of receiving a transplant before he was de-listed, he will be put at the bottom of the list even after satisfying the policy requirements. "ASA seeks to change this harmful and uncompassionate policy not only for Smith's benefit, but also for the benefit of numerous other medical marijuana patients who are being made to suffer unnecessarily as a result of political ideology," said Elford.

Between January 2010 and October 2011, Smith took part in a rare clinical trial to combat his liver cancer. The trial, which included only 60 people worldwide, involved weekly infusions and daily pills. Smith also smoked medical marijuana during this time, but stopped in August 2011 to try to adhere to the transplant eligibility requirements. Smith was the only patient in the entire 93-week trial who had a successful remission, earning him the moniker of "Miracle Man." Because of the cancer's return, Smith may not have six months to live. However, instead of re-listing him for a transplant, Cedars-Sinai is scheduling him for radiation treatment. "Norman Smith's life hangs in the balance between his desperate need for a liver and an anti-marijuana sentiment that informs a misguided and life-threatening transplant policy," continued Elford.

Smith not only has the support of his oncologist and other Cedars-Sinai staff, but also his psychologist, who wrote a strong letter of recommendation that Smith be approved for a liver transplant. Nonetheless, Dr. Steven D. Colquhoun, the director of Cedars-Sinai's Liver Transplant Program compared Smith's legal medical marijuana use to "substance abuse." In a letter sent to Smith in May, Dr. Colquhoun indicated that the liver transplant center "must consider issues of substance abuse seriously since it does often play a role in the evolution of diseases that may require transplantation, and may adversely impact a new organ after a transplant." Despite Dr. Colquhoun's assertions and Cedars-Sinai's restrictive policy, an independent study has shown that marijuana use has no adverse impact on the survival rate of transplant recipients.

AFI: Norman Smith is available for interviews at 310-801-8370 or normanbsmith55@gmail.com

Further information:
Video of Norman Smith: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_kYTwQ6jdY&feature=youtu.be
ASA letter to Cedars-Sinai: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Cedars_Letter_ASA.pdf
Cedars-Sinai transplant denial letter to Norman Smith: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Smith_Transplant_Denial.pdf
Liver transplant study: http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/73843/1/j.1600-6143.2008.02468.x.pdf

# # #

 

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Show-Me Freedom Benefit for Americans for Forfeiture Reform and Green Aid

Hello!

You are invited to the following event:

Show-Me Freedom

Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:

Nov 22, 2011at 8:00 PM to
Nov 23, 2011 at 2:00 AM (PT)

The New Parish
579 18th Street
Oakland, CA 94612

View Map

Show-Me Freedom is a benefit for Green Aid: The Medical Marijuana Legal Defense & Education Fund and Americans for Forfeiture Reform in support of Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, a legalization initiative for the State of Missouri! Tickets include: ...
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Share this event on Facebook and Twitter

We hope you can make it!

Cheers,
Americans for Forfeiture Reform & Ed Rosenthal's Green Aid

Date: 
Tue, 11/22/2011 - 8:00pm - Wed, 11/23/2011 - 2:00am
Location: 
579 18th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
United States

The Future of Drug War Chronicle

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/stopsign-200px.jpg
Dear Drug Policy Reformer:

During the last three weeks, more than 80 supporters helped us meet a deadline by donating to let us keep our legislative system and top-quality email list service. Thank you!

Today we seek your help for a different, especially important part of our web site, the Drug War Chronicle newsletter. The Chronicle reaches over a million people per year, before any reprinting on other web sites or redistribution to other email lists, and it serves the broadest set of purposes for the most of them. If you're not currently subscribed to the Chronicle, you can check it out and read the latest articles from it here.

It's not a secret that the troubled economy has been very hard on nonprofits. Many good organizations have downsized dramatically, and some have even shut down. StoptheDrugWar.org is fortunate to still be here. But we need your help, more perhaps than ever, to keep the most important StoptheDrugWar.org service, Drug War Chronicle, at full strength.

Actually, we want to do more than continue the Chronicle at its current level. We have an amazing expansion plan that includes reaching out to policymakers (nationally and internationally), a major social media effort, continuing the Legislative Center that you've heard of, more. But to credibly approach major funders for those programs, we need to be able to show them that our members are supporting us and that we have a full year's funding lined up for the newsletter itself.

If you haven't donated recently, would you make a donation today for this or other StoptheDrugWar.org programs?

Drug War Chronicle plays a crucial and unique role for individuals and organizations leading the charge with us for reform -- read what a few of them had to say recently about how:

Andrew Livingston, founder of Colgate University Students for Sensible Drug Policy:

Before I started Colgate University's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, I would stay up to date on issues in drug policy by reading stories in the Drug War Chronicle. The information I gained familiarized me with the growing movement for drug policy reform and stoked my passion to actively change our nation's unjust policies. Today I use StoptheDrugWar.org to keep myself informed and to teach other students in my SSDP chapter about the most up to date drug policy issues both within the United States and abroad.

Even though I am just a student I have already donated to StoptheDrugWar.org. Their work is indispensable to our cause, and I know it will continue to generate passionate young students like myself who want nothing more than to end our failed drug war policies.
 

Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML, recipient of the 2011 Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action:

Drug War Chronicle is the single best source for drug war journalism. I can't praise Drug War Chronicle enough. Phil Smith deserves special kudos for his journalism. I regularly re-post your articles to our California lists. Please keep up the good work.
 

Adam Hurter, Massachusetts activist:

I've been drumming up a lot of support for medical marijuana and legalization here in Massachusetts, and StoptheDrugWar.org is my primary source for information that I use in talking to people about current drug policy reform issues. Without it I wouldn't be in the know myself. It's known in my circles as the primary source of drug policy news. In fact, people are pretty dependent on it at this point.
 

There is an incredible amount at stake in the fight to change drug policy right now -- this may truly be the most important moment in the issue we've seen in the entire history of the organization. States and the Congress are considering sentencing reform, and public support for marijuana legalization is finally reaching the 50% mark. Yet the government is conducting its most aggressive crackdown against medical marijuana -- just medical marijuana -- and regressive committee chairmen refuse to give important reform bills the fair hearings and consideration they are due.

We can't let them get away with that. And that's why we need your help to decide whether StoptheDrugWar.org and Drug War Chronicle can enter this historical moment at full strength and looking to grow. Will you step up today in meeting the needs of the times? Please make a generous donation to StoptheDrugWar.org -- non-deductible for our lobbying work, or tax-deductible for our educational work like Drug War Chronicle -- to help us enter the new year right.

Donations to our organization can be made online at http://stopthedrugwar.org/donate, or they can be mailed to: DRCNet Foundation (tax-deductible), P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036; or Drug Reform Coordination Network (non-deductible for lobbying), same address. (Contact us for information if you wish to make a donation of stock.)

Thank you for standing with us to stop the drug war's cruelties and meet the opportunity this time offers to make a brighter future. And don't get discouraged by the challenges our movement and the cause are currently facing: Time, and the truth, are on our side!

Sincerely,

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org
Washington, DC
http://stopthedrugwar.org

P.S. Reply to this email or use our contact form to send us your Drug War Chronicle testimonial!

The 9th National Harm Reduction Conference: "From Public Health to Social Justice"

 

Dear Guest,

 

You're cordially invited to the

 9th National Harm Reduction Conference: "From Public Health to Social Justice"

The 9th National Harm Reduction Conference: From Public Health to Social Justice is the only multidisciplinary conference focused on improving the health of drug users. Over a thousand people from around the country will meet to address the many critical issues affecting the drug user community including overdose, HIV, hepatitis, incarceration, stigma. Physicians, medical professionals, policy makers, researchers, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis service agencies, organizations providing services for youth, and the homeless as well as community based and advocacy organizations will be well represented at this much anticipated event.

WHEN
Thursday, November 15, 2012 10:00 AM  -  Sunday, November 18, 2012 2:00 PM

WHERE
Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront Hotel
1401 SW Naito Parkway, Portland, OR 97201 USA

View Event Fees

View Event Summary

View Event Agenda

 

Location: 
1401 SW Naito Parkway
Portland, OR 97201
United States

Medical Marijuana Patients, Supporters Rally TODAY in Sacramento Against DOJ Attacks

 

MEDIA ADVISORY
Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release:
November 9, 2011
Contact: ASA California Director Don Duncan

Medical Marijuana Patients, Supporters Rally TODAY in Sacramento Against DOJ Attacks
Lively, peaceful protest called for Noon on Wednesday, Nov 9th at Sacramento federal building

Sacramento, CA -- Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and a coalition of advocacy and labor groups are staging a demonstration at Noon today to protest federal government's escalated attack on California's medical marijuana laws. A lively rally of medical marijuana patients and supporters is set to occur in front of the Sacramento federal building and will feature state legislators, advocates, labor, and dispensary operators impacted by the recent Justice Department (DOJ) crackdown in California.

What: Protest against DOJ attacks on California's medical marijuana laws
When: 12 Noon TODAY, November 9, 2011
Where: Sacramento federal building, 501 I Street

Speakers will include: State Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), and other invited legislators; Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA; Steve D'Angelo of Oakland's licensed dispensary Harborside Health Center; Dan Rush of the United Food and Commercial Workers; and Dale Gieringer of California NORML

On October 7th, all four U.S. Attorneys for California held a joint press conference to announce a multi-pronged attack on medical marijuana across the state. The DOJ strategy includes: aggressive SWAT-style raids on state compliant producers and distributors of medical marijuana, threats of criminal prosecution and property seizure made against landlords of licensed distributors, and threats against local public officials attempting to implement state law. The Internal Revenue Service has also targeted dozens of California dispensaries in an attempt to put them out of business.

"No matter how you spin it, an attack on access to medical marijuana is an attack on patients," said ASA California Director Don Duncan, one of the organizers of today's protest. "Not only is this crackdown bad for the economy, workers and much-needed tax revenue, it literally pushes patients into the illicit market and into harm's way," continued Duncan. "We are sick and tired of being the target of the Obama Administration and we're calling on the Justice Department to stand down."

Less than two weeks ago, ASA filed a lawsuit in federal court attempting to stop the DOJ crackdown on medical marijuana. The ASA lawsuit accuses the Obama Administration of violating the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by commandeering the lawmaking efforts of local and state legislators. There has also been an outcry from a multitude of elected officials in California, including several members of Congress, State Attorney General Kamala Harris, State Senators Mark Leno and Leland Yee, State Assembly member Tom Ammiano, and Mendocino Supervisor John McCowen.

Today's protest is the culmination of a series of demonstrations held as a result of the October 7th DOJ announcement. Rallies and marches have occurred previously in San Diego (10/18), Los Angeles (10/24), and San Francisco (10/25). The coalition of groups putting on today's protest are also mobilizing supporters across the country to contact President Obama and urge him to end the DOJ attacks.

Further information:
Protest details: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/article.php?id=6848
Letter from Congress to Obama: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Obama_Letter_October_2011.pdf
Elected officials' statements against DOJ tactics: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/blog/?p=2034

# # #

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

Location: 
501 I Street
Sacramento, CA
United States

National Movement of Formerly Incarcerated Kicks Off 11/2 in Los Angeles

Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
www.prisonerswithchildren

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 28, 2011
CONTACT: Dorsey Nunn, Martha Wallner

National Movement to End Human and Civil Rights Abuses Against
Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People and Their Families
Kicks Off Nov. 2 in Los Angeles, CA

SAN FRANCISCO -- Formerly incarcerated people from around the country will convene in Los Angeles on November 2 to ratify the National Platform of the Formerly Incarcerated andConvicted Peoples Movement (FICPM) and discuss an agenda for action. Participants will discuss plans to register and mobilize one million formerly incarcerated people to vote in the 2012 elections and strategies to expand the "Ban the Box" employment rights campaign that has yielded legislation in six states easing discrimination against job seekers with a conviction history.

Key organizers of the gathering include Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director of Legal Services for Prisoners With Children and the organizing project All of Us or None, based in San Francisco, CA, Susan Burton, Executive Director, A New Way of Life Reentry Project in South Central Los Angeles and Pastor Kenny Glasgow, Director of The Ordinary People’s Society (aka TOPS) in Dothan, Alabama.

The new movement emerges at a time when the US has the largest incarceration rate in the world and approximately two million children under the age of 18 with at least one parent behind bars. An estimated 600,000 will be released from prison per year over the next five years. According to the latest US Bureau of Justice statistics, over four million people were on parole and over 800,000 were on probation.

"The abuse of my rights as a formerly incarcerated person is not just an individual issue. Sure, my right to vote, my right to work is important to me, but discrimination against our voting and employment rights has a huge impact on civic engagement and the economic well-being of Black and brown communities in general," said convening co-organizer, Dorsey Nunn.

"The War on Drugs is the biggest cause of disenfranchisement" said co-organizer Pastor Kenny Glasgow. In 2008 Glasgow won a groundbreaking lawsuit restoring the voting rights of the currently incarcerated and those convicted of drug crimes in Alabama. "As formerly incarcerated people we are hindered from becoming the productive people in society we actually want to be. With this work we are serving our country after serving our time. We want to create harm reduction and public safety for all."

"There are 60 million people who are struggling with the quality of their lives as the result of mass incarceration in this country. This meeting will allow us to come together as formerly incarcerated people in a way that’s never been done before. It will connect us and strengthen us so that we can push forward with a common agenda and a common goal. Our goal is to end the discrimination against us," said co-organizer and Los Angeles host, Susan Burton, Executive Director of the New Way of Life Reentry Project.

According to Dorsey Nunn, the convening is open to the public but only participants who identify themselves as formerly incarcerated or convicted people will be allowed to vote to ratify the National Platform. "Where else has anyone asked us what we wanted? Everyone else has always prescribed what we needed. We’re more than somebody else’s client-base, more than somebody else’s patient. The process to develop a national platform represents the first time we’ve asked ourselves, what do we want?"

The gathering will include workshops for youth and family members and trainings on how to overcome growing barriers to voter registration and "Get Out The Vote" and "Ban the Box" that appears on employment forms asking for felony conviction history.

The FICPM gathering is scheduled to coincide with the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Los Angeles, November 2-5. The conference hosts, Drug Policy Alliance, will honor Dorsey Nunn, key organizer for the FICPM gathering, with the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action at an awards reception on Saturday Nov. 5 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.

Event Details

Date: Weds. Nov 2, 8:30 am – 5:45 pm
Address: Watts Labor Community Action Center, 10950 South Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90059

National Platform of the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted Peoples Movement
http://ficpmovement.wordpress.com/about/ficpm-national-platform/

###

Participants are attending from around the country. The Steering Committee is available for comment or interviews.

Malik Aziz, Men United for a Better Philadelphia: Founder and Chairman of the National Exodus Council, with a presence in 24 cities across the nation. He began organizing while incarcerated in Graterford Prison, and eventually found a role in the Philadelphia mayor's office developing alternatives to incarceration and recidivism.

Susan Burton, A New Way of Life, Los Angeles: After cycling in an out of the criminal justice system for nearly fifteen years, Susan gained freedom and sobriety and founded A New Way of Life Reentry Project in 1998. Dedicating her life to helping other women break the cycle of incarceration, homelessness, addiction and despair, Susan becoming a recognized leader in the criminal justice reform and reentry rights movements, and was recently nominated as a CNN hero in the category of "community crusader." She has been a Soros Justice Fellow, a Women's Policy Institute Fellow, and a former Community Fellow under the Violence Prevention Initiative of The California Wellness Foundation.

Pastor Kenny Glasgow, The Ordinary People Society, Dothan, AL: Since his release from prison, Pastor Glasgow has remained committed to ensuring that redemption is in the lives of those who have served their debts to society. He is Executive Director/Founder of TOPS, an organization providing numerous rehabilitation and prevention programs for youth and adults involved, or at risk of involvement, in the criminal justice system. A longtime leader of state and region-wide voter registration and restoration efforts, Pastor Glasgow led the successful campaign resulting in restoration of voting rights for people currently incarcerated in Alabama state prisons -- a first. In 2008, he was awarded the Lyndon B. Johnson Political Freedom Award.

Arthur League, All of Us or None/Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, San Francisco: Arthur has a 40-year history as a community activist involved in social and criminal justice work. In the 70's & 80's, during a time of political unrest, Arthur was an active member of the Black Panther Party, and served a seven- year prison term for his political beliefs and actions. Arthur is a former Director of the Concord Re-Ed Project, a non-profit organization working with adolescents in a group home setting, and serves on the board of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. A Journeyman Plumber, he assists many young people coming out of prison to join the building trades unions and apprenticeships.

Aaliyah Muhammed, All of Us or None/LSPC, San Francisco: Aaliyah is a former prisoner and organizer who has worked with diverse groups of people inside prison and in the community. Her organizing abilities have increased the presence of formerly incarcerated people in the State Capitol, allowing her to supervise contingents of students and advocates in legislative arenas. Her efforts have resulted in creating avenues for former prisoners to take part in policy work in a variety of ways, from organizing community summits in Sacramento regarding legal expungement remedies to grassroots fundraising efforts to support the children of incarcerated people. She speaks widely on the conditions and struggles for women inside of prison.

Dorsey Nunn, All of Us or None/ LSPC, San Francisco: Dorsey is a co-founder of All of Us or None, a civil and human rights organization comprised of formerly incarcerated people, prisoners and their allies. He is also formerly incarcerated, and Executive Director for LSPC, a 30 year old San Francisco based organization dedicated to advocating for the human and civil rights of incarcerated parents, children, family members and people at risk for incarceration. Awarded nationally for his work, he was a 1996-1998 California Wellness Fellow and was recently awarded the prestigious Fannie Lou Hamer award from the African American Studies Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

Bruce Reilly, Direct Action for Rights & Equality, Providence, RI: After a decade as a Jailhouse Lawyer, Bruce hit the ground running in 2005. He served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the RI Right to Vote Campaign and drafted the final language of a state constitutional amendment that re-enfranchised felons onprobation and parole. He wrote a probation reform bill that became law after four years of organizing. He is a former board member and organizer with DARE, and is preparing to enter Tulane Law School in 2011. A successful writer, Bruce has produced a play of prisoners’ writings and his blog on criminal justice has over 200,000 hits in 2010.

Tina Reynolds, Women On the Rise Telling HerStory, New York City Tina is Co-Founder and Chair of Women on the Rise Telling HerStory (WORTH), an association of formerly and currently incarcerated women. Tina Reynolds has received a Master in Social Work from Hunter College and is currently an adjunct professor at York, CUNY in the Psychology Department teaching the "Impact of Incarceration on Families, Communities and Children". She has published pieces on the abolition of prisons, the impact of incarceration on women and children, formerly incarcerated women and policy change and is an editor of an anthology "Interrupted Life: Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the United States".

###

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Patient Advocates Sue Obama Administration Over Medical Marijuana Crackdown

 

PRESS RELEASE
Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release:
October 27, 2011
Contact: ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes

Patient Advocates Sue Obama Justice Department Over Medical Marijuana Crackdown
Lawsuit uses 10th amendment to challenge federal overreaching and commandeering of state law

San Francisco, CA -- Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy organization, filed suit in federal court today challenging the Obama Administration's attempt to subvert local and state medical marijuana laws in California. ASA argues in its lawsuit that the Obama Justice Department (DOJ) has "instituted a policy to dismantle the medical marijuana laws of the State of California and to coerce its municipalities to pass bans on medical marijuana dispensaries." The DOJ policy has involved aggressive SWAT-style raids, criminal prosecutions of medical marijuana patients and providers and threats to local officials for merely implementing state law.

"Although the Obama Administration is entitled to enforce federal marijuana laws, the Tenth Amendment forbids it from using coercive tactics to commandeer the law-making functions of the State," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the lawsuit today in San Francisco's federal District Court. "This case is aimed at restoring California's sovereign and constitutional right to establish its own public health laws based on this country's federalist principles." The ASA lawsuit, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, was filed on behalf of its 20,000 members in California who are directly and adversely affected by the DOJ actions.

On October 7th, California's four U.S. Attorneys announced in a highly unusual joint press conference that the DOJ would be engaging in a multi-pronged attack on the State's medical marijuana laws involving enforcement action against State-compliant producers and distributors as well as threatening their landlords with criminal prosecution and civil asset forfeiture. In addition, the same U.S. Attorneys have been sending threatening letters to several municipalities across the state in an attempt to undermine the passage of local medical marijuana regulations.

  • On July 1st, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California sent a letter to Chico Mayor Ann Schwab stating that the city's proposed ordinance regulating medical marijuana dispensaries would violate federal law. U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner also warned Chico's City Attorney, City Manager, and Police Chief that council members and staff could face federal prosecution for its attempts to implement such a law. As a result, the Chico City Council voted on August 2nd to rescind its medical marijuana dispensary ordinance.
  • On August 15th, the Eureka City Council received a letter from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California threatening that its regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries violates federal law. Similar to the letter sent to Chico, the Eureka letter stated that the city's publicly vetted licensing scheme "threatens the federal government’s efforts to regulate, the possession, manufacturing, and trafficking of controlled substances." The letter added that, "If the City of Eureka were to proceed, this office would consider injunctive actions, civil fines, criminal prosecution, and the forfeiture of any property used to facilitate a violation of [federal law]." Because of these threats, the City of Eureka has suspended implementation of its local ordinance.

The federal actions announced on October 7th by U.S. Attorneys have also derailed the regulatory efforts of local governments in Arcata, El Centro, Sacramento and other municipalities across the state. Less than a week after the DOJ press conference, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted an early morning raid on October 13th at Northstone Organics, a fully-licensed cultivation collective in Mendocino County. The DEA handcuffed the collective's founder and his wife and cut down all 99 plants, which were each zip-tied and registered with the Sheriff's Department. Mendocino has one of the most tightly controlled cultivation ordinances in the state.

Several local and state officials have publicly blasted the Obama Administration's tactics. In a recent statement, Mendocino County Supervisor Josh McCowen called the DEA raid on Northstone "outrageous," and said "The elimination of dispensaries that operate legally and openly will endanger patients and the public." Last week, the co-author of California's Medical Marijuana Program Act, State Senator Mark Leno "urge[d] the federal government to stand down in it massive attack on medical marijuana dispensaries." On October 21st, State Attorney General Kamala Harris issued a statement renouncing the federal government’s tactics, claiming that "an overly broad federal enforcement campaign will make it more difficult for legitimate patients to access physician-recommended medicine," and urging "federal authorities in the state to adhere to the [DOJ's] stated policy" of allowing California to implement its medical marijuana laws without federal interference.

Although the lawsuit accuses the Obama Administration of commandeering California's legislative function and interfering with local laws meant to distinguish between medical and non-medical use, it does not challenge the federal government's authority to adopt and enforce federal marijuana laws. The lawsuit states that, "It is, rather, the...misuse of the government's Commerce Clause powers, designed to deprive the State of its sovereign ability to chart a separate course, that forms the basis of plaintiffs' claims."

Further information:
ASA lawsuit filed today: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/ASA_v_Holder.pdf
U.S. Attorney letter threatening Chico officials: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/DOJ_Threat_Letter_CA_Chico.pdf
U.S. Attorney letter threatening Eureka officials: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/DOJ_Threat_Letter_CA_Eureka.pdf

# # #

With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

Location: 
CA
United States

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