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Patient Advocates Accuse Obama of Hypocritical, Aggressive Policy on Medical Marijuana

PRESS RELEASE

Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release: 
October 7, 2011
Contact: ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes or ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford

Patient Advocates Accuse Obama of Hypocritical, Aggressive Policy on Medical Marijuana
Millions of taxpayer dollars spent undermining state and local medical marijuana laws

Sacramento, CA -- The Obama Justice Department (DOJ) held a press conference in Sacramento today announcing an array of enforcement actions against medical marijuana producers and distributors as well as landlords throughout California. Patient advocates are calling President Obama's enforcement effort harmful and unnecessary, representing a stark contradiction to his pledge of disengagement in medical marijuana states. The DOJ claimed it was carrying out civil and criminal enforcement actions against medical marijuana providers and sending "warning" letters to property owners leasing to dispensary operators.

"Aggressive tactics like these are a completely inappropriate use of prosecutorial discretion by the Obama Administration," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "President Obama must answer for his contradictory policy on medical marijuana." On the campaign trial and in the White House, President Obama pledged that he was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state [medical marijuana] laws."

This attack is the latest in a long line of federal intimidation tactics employed over the past few months by such agencies as Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). President Obama's DOJ has conducted well over 150 federal raids in at least 7 states since taking office and his U.S. Attorneys sent letters earlier this year threatening local and state officials in 10 states with criminal prosecution if they adopted proposed medical marijuana laws.

By sending threatening letters to landlords, President Obama is taking a cue from his predecessor George W. Bush, whose Justice Department sent similar letters to more than 300 property owners throughout California in 2007. Despite the seriousness of letters sent by the DOJ under Bush, no criminal or forfeiture enforcement actions were ever pursued. It's unclear if the federal government has the resources or inclination to act on these new threats in a significant way, but for the price of postage they have engaged in wholesale intimidation of the medical marijuana community.

Advocates argue that states should be allowed to enforce their own public health laws, including those concerning medical marijuana. "It is unconscionable that the federal government would override local and state laws to enforce its will over the will of the people," said ASA spokesperson Kris Hermes. "States must be allowed to enforce their own laws without harmful interference from the Obama Administration." California Attorney General Kamala Harris was apparently not warned by the DOJ about the heightened federal enforcement effort before today.

The DOJ enforcement effort comes as hundreds of demonstrations against Wall Street are continuing to occur across the country. These protests are, at least in part, questioning the federal government's allocation of limited resources. Meanwhile, President Obama has chosen to expend federal resources to crack down on medical marijuana in states that have legalized its use. "By shutting down dispensaries, the Obama Administration is not only pushing legal patients into the illicit market," continued Hermes, "it's also wasting taxpayer dollars at a time of fiscal crisis."

Further information:
Redacted example of U.S. Attorney letter to landlords of California medical marijuana dispensaries: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/US_Attorney_Landlord_Letter.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

"No More Drug War" Rally Update

Hey "No More Drug War" rally supporters,

One month until the historic “No More Drug War” rally and concert in MacArthur Park (Thurs, Nov 3)! An update follows, including several requests for help. Your primary contact to follow up on any of this is Alana Rodriguez (copied above). Thanks!

RALLY: CONTENT

--Schedule: Folks will gather in MacArthur Park at 6:00 to eat (gourmet food trucks & Mama’s Hot Tamales), distribute signs, and network. The rally will start at 6:30; the concert will start at 7:30 and end by 9:00. (Buses from the conference will depart the Bonaventure Hotel at 5:30, returning to the hotel in waves, starting at the close of the rally.)

--Speakers: KPFK host and renowned artist LaloAlcaraz will emcee the event. Acclaimed poet Javier Sicilia, leader of the mass movement to end the drug war in Mexico, has agreed to address the rally.

--Performers: We will soon announce a local band to anchor the concert. Pete White of LA CAN is chairing a committee to select other local artists (spoken word, acoustic musicians, etc.). To participate in that committee or recommend local artists: PeteW@cangress.org

--Signs: We will distribute hundreds of “No More Drug War” signs and encourage people to make and bring their own signs as well. If you would like to make signs for others, DPA will cover the expenses. Contact Alana for details.

RALLY: PROMOTION

--KPFKhas agreed to be the primary media sponsor. We have submitted calendar listings in every major mainstream outlet. Please let Alana know of community- or movement-based outlets that will promote this event.

--We have created a Facebook event page. Please RSVP and share the link: http://www.facebook.com/stephen.gutwillig#!/event.php?eid=278047215558009

--We are securing attendance commitments from every organization connected to DPA. You will hear from us to discuss your participation and how we can facilitate and incentivize the largest group possible.

--We will create a final digital and printed promotional piece for this event. Please let Alana know if you particularly want printed flyers to distribute.

CONFERENCE

Reform Conference registration is still available (http://www.reformconference.org/registration), and a nearly-final version of the schedule is online at http://www.reformconference.org/program/sessions.

See you next month!

Stephen Gutwillig | State Director, California
Drug Policy Alliance

The International Drug Policy Reform Conference

November 2-5, 2011 | Los Angeles, California | www.reformconference.org

No More Drug War: A Rally & Concert to End the War on Drugs

November 3, 2011 | 6:00pm – 8:00pm | Levitt Pavilion, MacArthur Park, LA | www.nomoredrugwar.org/rally

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Gainesville Hemp Fest

Visit http://gvillehempfest.com for further information.

Date: 
Sat, 11/05/2011 - 10:00am - 6:00pm
Location: 
Gainesville, FL
United States

Only One Month Left Until Drug Policy Reform Conference



The Reform Conference is just a month away – have you secured your spot yet?

Click here to register to attend.

If you haven’t, you should soon. Booking your travel a month out will save you money. And you won’t want to miss what former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and current California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom have to say at the Opening Plenary!

The rest of the conference program is packed full with trainings, roundtable discussions addressing controversies within the movement, and panels exploring and sharing innovative approaches to reform challenges. Thursday evening you can stand up for justice at the No More Drug War rally at nearby MacArthur Park, hosted by dozens of local California organizations and emceed by KPFK radio personality Lalo Alcaraz.

And the activities and highlights don’t stop there…

Very soon we’ll be announcing three special Mobile Workshops – learning sessions that will take a select group of conference-goers out of the hotel and into the local community.

You’re also invited to host informal Community Meetings of your own during the conference. These meetings are meant to be your opportunity to organize reformers around action plans. They take place in open session rooms in the mornings, evenings and at lunch.

What do these Mobile Workshops and Community Meetings have in common? They’re only available to registered conference attendees – and they’ll be limited by space availability!

So register now…and I’ll see you in Los Angeles!

Stefanie Jones
Event Manager
Drug Policy Alliance

Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

NORML Night: The Marijuana-Logues at Arlington Drafthouse (DC area)

Performances Friday and Saturday night. More information (including a ticket discount code) available at https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=143778015713969.

NoVa NORML show 8:30pm before Saturday night performance. (Update: the meeting has been postponed.)

Date: 
Sat, 10/01/2011 - 9:50pm - 11:59pm
Location: 
2903 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA
United States

NORML Night: The Marijuana-Logues at Arlington Drafthouse (DC area)

Performances Friday and Saturday night. More information (including a ticket discount code) available at https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=143778015713969.

NoVa NORML show 8:30pm before Saturday night performance. (Update: the meeting has been postponed.)

Date: 
Fri, 09/30/2011 - 9:50pm - 11:59pm
Location: 
2903 Columbia Pike
Arlington, VA
United States

How Accurate is Cannabis Testing? Ring Test Assesses the Labs

How Accurate is Cannabis Testing? Ring Test Assesses the Labs

California NORML Release - Sep. 26, 2011

How Accurate Is Cannabis Potency Testing? California NORML and Project CBD release the results of the first "Ring Test" to assess the accuracy of analytical laboratories

Mixed findings show strengths and problems among analytic testing services

In the winter of 2010/11, California NORML and Project CBD initiated a "Ring Test" to assess the accuracy of the numerous analytical cannabis testing laboratories that have recently emerged to serve medical marijuana collectives, breeders, growers and patients.

Results of the study, which was coauthored by California NORML director Dale Gieringer and Dutch scientist Dr. Arno Hazekamp, are reported in the Autumn 2011 issue of O'Shaughnessy's, the Journal of Cannabis in Clinical practice on pages 17-18, posted at:

http://www.canorml.org/RingTestOShaughnessys_Aut11.pdf

"We embarked on a parallel study of cannabis testing labs to shed light on a significant, unresolved issue within the fledgling medical marijuana industry in California and other states," says Gieringer, "We wanted to know how reliable is the information provided by analytical cannabis labs? Are they adequately serving the needs of medical marijuana patients and providers?"

Ten cannabis labs in two states agreed to participate in an anonymous, side-by-side study to assess the accuracy and precision of their collective work. The participating labs employed a variety of analytical techniques and instrumentation to conduct their analysis.

Six samples drawn from the same sources were tested by each lab: four herbal samples, including one CBD-rich strain, and two tinctures (alcohol extracts).

Results of the Ring Test

- In most cases, lab results were consistent to within plus or minus 20% on replicate samples (and often within 10%). For example, a sample with 10% average THC content might range from 8% to 12% in different tests.  This is similar to the accuracy of the government's potency testing program run by NIDA's lab in Mississippi, as well as comparable government-regulated industries such as environmental testing. Conclusion: The precision and proficiency of a majority of cannabis testing labs compared favorably to other analytical testing industries.

- While a majority of labs performed within acceptable limits, some reported results that deviated substantially from the average, with unacceptable deviations of more than 25% from the mean. Three of the ten labs performed unacceptably on half of the tests. Conclusion: Not all cannabis testing labs are performing up to par; consumers are well advised to check the reputations and professional experience of labs they work with, and to arrange backup tests from more than one lab where accuracy is essential.

- Both gas chromatography (GC) and liquid chromatography (LC) instrumentation yielded accurate results in testing of raw cannabis samples, with comparable and acceptable repeatability for identical samples. Conclusion: Both GC and LC instrumentation should be considered reliable for cannabis potency analysis.

- In the case of the tinctures (alcohol extracts), there were significant discrepancies in the results found by different labs, with GC generally reporting significantly higher potencies than LC. This made it impossible to reliably estimate the actual potency of the original samples. Conclusion: More work is required to assess the accuracy of current methods for testing cannabis tinctures, edibles and other extracts.

 

- No analytical testing lab demonstrated precision that supports reporting cannabinoid results to two decimal places. By unnecessarily reporting results to the one-hundredth percentile, some labs created an unrealistic illusion of precision that raises false expectations regarding the degree to which accuracy is possible, given the 20% variation observed. Conclusion: Labs should re-evaluate the precision level at which results are reported.

The Project CBD / CA NORML Ring Test report is accompanied by a list of ten questions that patients and providers might want to ask when choosing to work with an analytical testing lab.

"Analytical labs provide an important service for the medical marijuana community," says Sarah Russo, Project CBD's outreach coordinator. "We hope that cannabis labs, while competing for market share, will cooperate to improve their methods and maintain a high performance standard. Medical marijuana patients and providers would be well served by labs that share information and assist each other in a collegial manner."

For more information contact: Dale Gieringer at California NORML, dale@canorml.org or Project CBD,info@projectcbd.org

Location: 
CA
United States

2011 Northeast Regional SSDP Conference

You're invited to the 2011 Northeast Regional SSDP Conference!

  • Date: Saturday, October 1 - Sunday, October 2 
  • Time: 11am-6pm (10/1), 11am-4pm (10/2)
  • Location: Boston University Kenmore Classroom Building
                       565 Commonwealth Ave. Boston, MA 02215
  • Register for FREE here: ssdp.org/events/northeast-regional-ssdp-conference-2011 

This weekend, dozens of SSDPers from across the Northeast region will gather at Boston University for our annual Northeast Regional SSDP conference.  Please join us for two days of networking, learning, training, and other activities that will help strengthen our ability to be effective young drug policy reformers.  Registration is free and lunch will be provided.  Donations will be accepted at the door.  Find this event on Facebook.

Confirmed speakers include:

Rick Doblin: Executive Director, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

Stacia Cosner: Associate Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Jason Ortiz: Regional Outreach Coordinator, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

... and of course many other student leaders and alumni will be there to contribute to the discussion and  share their experiences as well.

See you in Boston on Saturday!

Best,

Jason Ortiz
Regional Outreach Coordinator, Northeast & Mountain Plains Regions
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Date: 
Sat, 10/01/2011 - 11:00am - Sun, 10/02/2011 - 4:00pm
Location: 
556 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA
United States

Press Release: Elected Officials and Advocates Applaud Change to Marijuana Arrest Policy, Pledge Further Reform

For Immediate Release:

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, And Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Jumanne D. Williams Joined by Advocates in Front of Police Headquarters to Applaud Change in Policy for Marijuana Arrests

Policy Shift by NYPD Could End Tens of Thousands of Arrests in NYC, Save Tens of Millions of Dollars and Reduce the Funneling of Young Men of Color into the Criminal Justice System

Elected Officials and Advocates Affirm Support for Legislation in Albany that Standardizes Penalties for Marijuana Possession Offenses to Permanently Curb These Arrests Statewide

New York, NY– Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, joined by advocates from the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, VOCAL NY, and the Drug Policy Alliance, gathered in front of One Police Plaza today to celebrate an internal order issued by NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly to all precinct commanding officers to stop arresting New Yorkers for small quantities of marijuana if the marijuana was not in plain view.

In 2010, over 54,000 people – mostly black or Latino – were arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana in New York State. Over 50,000 of those arrests occurred in New York City, making it the most frequent arrest citywide. On Monday, September 19th, responding to mounting public pressure from elected officials and advocates, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly issued an operations order that clarified existing marijuana possession laws, instructing officers not to arrest people for marijuana in public view when complying with an officer's demand to "empty their pockets". This change could lead to the reduction of tens of thousands of arrests in New York City.

"The internal directive issued by Commissioner Kelly is a positive step toward a more equitable criminal justice system that treats everyone the same, regardless of race or socioeconomic status,” said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. “The NYPD's aggressive stop and frisk practices that have lead to the explosion of improper marijuana arrests in communities of color have helped poison the relationship between the community and police. We will continue to push for the passage of state legislation that changes public view possession of small quantities of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation.”

Commissioner Kelly’s operations order can be made permanent, and apply to all of New York State, by passing A.7620 (Jeffries) and S.5187 (Grisanti, R-Buffalo). This legislation would standardize penalties for marijuana possession offences, protect New Yorkers from illegal searches, save taxpayer dollars, and bring down the disproportionately high number of arrests among black and Latino men for marijuana-related crimes by eliminating the misdemeanor charge.

"The New York City Police Commissioner did the right thing when he issued his directive not to arrest people who produce small amounts of marijuana in public view when compelled by police," said  New York State Senator Mark Grisanti (R- Buffalo). "Unfortunately, this order does not impact people in Buffalo who experience these same situations every day. We can make this order permanent and have it apply statewide by passing legislation in Albany that will help put an end to these racially biased, fiscally wasteful, and unlawful arrests for small amounts of marijuana."

Council Member Mark-Viverito introduced a City Council resolution that Council Member Williams is sponsoring that supports the passage of this legislation.

“The directive issued by Commissioner Kelly is a huge victory for communities of color in the city of New York, who for years have been disproportionately targeted for small-time marijuana arrests” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito.  “Finally, the NYPD will be respecting the intent of the State law that de-criminalized small amounts of marijuana decades ago, and our youth will no longer face arrest for this small-time offense.  I personally raised this issue with Commissioner Kelly at two different Council hearings earlier this year as a major concern for my district and communities like mine across the city.  I applaud the Commissioner for acting on the concerns that so many of us in the Council and beyond have been expressing about this policy.  We will continue to closely monitor how stop and frisk policies are carried out in our city and to advocate for the passage of the State legislation introduced by Senator Grisanti and Assemblyman Jeffries.”

Marijuana has been decriminalized since 1977, making possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana a violation, punishable by a $100 fine, not arrest and jail. However, possessing or burning marijuana in public view is a criminal offense punishable by arrest and jail.

"Commissioner Kelly has finally answered the alarm sounded by advocates and our communities,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. “However, it will take continued vigilance on all of our parts to make sure that officers are patrol are heeding the message and bringing an end to the racial inequality and fiscal waste of this disturbing trend of illegal arrests. We also must continue to push for the bipartisan state legislation that will ensure this order is made permanent for all New Yorkers.”

Since 1996, the New York City Police Department has made over 535,000 arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Although the “public view” provision was meant to criminalize public display and smoking of marijuana, most of these arrests were not for that offense, but instead the result of complying with an officer's demand to disclose contraband or from a police search and being improperly charged for "marijuana in public view" instead of the non-criminal violation offense. Although marijuana use is higher among whites, 86% of those arrested for marijuana possession were young Black and Latino youth.

Advocates who have worked for years to address the out of control marijuana arrests by NYPD weighed in on the significance of the recent directive.

“It must be noted that these spurious arrests are largely a result of a racially biased and improper stop and frisk practice that often result in illegal searches, and this order does not address this injustice,” said Kyung Ji Rhee, director of  Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives. “We will continue to hold NYPD accountable on this front.”

“It’s about time!,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.  “I just want to give a belated thanks to Ray Kelly for agreeing at last to comply with both the spirit and letter of the marijuana decriminalization law that New York enacted back in 1977.”

"We can't talk about marijuana arrests without bringing up why they happen in the first place - stop and frisks and illegal searches that are targeted in communities of color," said Alfredo Carrasquillo, a community organizer for VOCAL-NY who has been arrested in the past for marijuana possession. "That won't necessarily change as a result of this new policy, but it should. Mayor Bloomberg must also seal the records of people who have been convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana in the past given that he knows how difficult it can make finding a job or housing."

# # #

Location: 
1 Police Plaza
New York, NY
United States

A Rally & Concert to End the War on Drugs

 

Save the Date

 

A Rally & Concert to
End the War on Drugs

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Levitt Pavilion
MacArthur Park, Los Angeles

For more information,
www.nomoredrugwar.org/rally.

 

Sponsored by the Drug Policy Alliance and supported by A New PATH, A New Way of Life Re-entry Project, ACLU of California, All of Us or None, Americans for Safe Access, California NORML, California State Conference of the NAACP, Clean Needles Now, Common Ground - The Westside HIV Community Center, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes, HIV Drug and Alcohol Task Force, Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative, LA Community Action Network, Labor/Community Strategy Center, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Southern California Immigration Coalition, Southern California Library, Students for Sensible Drug Policy - LA City College, William C. Velasquez Institute, and Youth Justice Coalition.

This event is presented in conjunction with the International Drug Policy Reform Conference, November 2–5, Los Angeles, www.reformconference.org

 

 

Date: 
Thu, 11/03/2011 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

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