Medical Marijuana Advocates Stage National Day of Action Against Federal Interference (Press Release)
Americans for Safe Access
For Immediate Release: May 2, 2011
Contact: ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer at 510-872-7822 or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes at 510-681-6361
Medical Marijuana Advocates Stage National Day of Action Against Federal Interference
Rallies in Sacramento & DC as advocates deliver federal "Cease & Desist" orders across the US
Washington, DC -- Patients and their supporters rallied at the Justice Department in Washington, DC today to protest increased federal interference in medical marijuana states. More than 200 supporters also rallied today in Sacramento for medical marijuana patients Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband Dale Schafer as they surrendered to federal authorities to serve out 5-year prison terms. On Thursday, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided several distribution centers in Spokane, Washington, as a state bill to license such facilities was vetoed the next day by Governor Gregoire. Thursday's actions are the latest in a string of more than 100 aggressive SWAT-style federal raids carried out since President Obama took office.
"Patients are sick and tired of being singled out, stigmatized and harassed over the medication they choose," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the medical marijuana patients' rights group organizing the protest. "At minimum, the federal government must end its intimidation tactics of threats and harmful raids," continued Sherer. "But more importantly, medical marijuana is an urgent public health issue that President Obama should address by working with -- not against -- the patient community."
As part of its "Sick and Tired" campaign, ASA also organized the delivery of "Cease & Desist" orders to federal officials today in 10 medical marijuana states, including Arizona (Phoenix, Tucson), California (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco), Colorado (Denver), Maine (Portland), Michigan (Detroit, Lansing), Montana (Billings), Nevada (Las Vegas), Oregon (Eugene, Portland), Rhode Island (Providence), and Washington (Everett, Seattle, Spokane).
The national day of action comes at a time of heightened federal attacks on medical marijuana states, routinely timed to coincide with state legislative actions. Threats of criminal prosecution have been made by U.S. Attorneys against local and state officials in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Rhode Island and Washington. In March, more than two-dozen federal raids in Montana were timed to coincide with deliberation on a pending bill to repeal that state's medical marijuana law. After Governor Schweitzer later vetoed the bill, US Attorney Michael Cotter issued a threatening letter to the state's legislative leadership, further discouraging them from adopting a cultivation and distribution licensing law.
"The imprisonment of Dr. Mollie Fry and Dale Schafer is emblematic of a failed federal policy," said Sherer. Fry and Schafer were raided by the DEA in 2001, despite approval from local law enforcement to cultivate medical marijuana. Fry and Schafer were later charged and tried in 2007 for manufacturing, and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. They were denied a medical defense despite their adherence to state law and ultimately convicted. In order to obtain the mandatory minimum 5-year sentence, the government was able to add up multiple years of harvests to arrive at more than 100 plants. The Obama administration vigorously fought an appeal of their sentence in the Ninth Circuit.
Adding to the cost of incarceration, both Fry and Schafer are in need of medical attention. Fry, a breast cancer survivor, and Schafer, a hemophiliac, will also be leaving behind a family of 5 children and 2 grandchildren, and will miss the birth of another grandchild in October. Advocates are calling on President Obama to grant clemency and commute Fry and Schafer's sentence. In April, ASA issued a report card, giving Obama a failing grade on medical marijuana. "President Obama has given us nothing but broken promises and half-measures, and patients deserve better," said ASA spokesperson Kris Hermes.
ASA's "Sick and Tired" campaign page: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/article.php?id=6369
ASA's "Cease & Desist" order: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/ASA_Cease_Desist.pdf
Threatening letters from US Attorneys: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/DOJ_Threat_Letters.pdf
Obama Report Card: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/Obama_Report_Card.pdf
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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.
Medical Marijuana Advocates Threaten to Sue If San Diego Fails to Amend Flawed Ordinance (Press Release)
For Immediate Release: April 28, 2011
Medical Marijuana Advocates Threaten to Sue if San Diego Fails to Amend Flawed Ordinance
New law shuts down more than 100 operating facilities & leaves virtually no options for relocation
San Diego, CA -- Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) threatened to file suit against the City of San Diego today if it doesn't amend a recent ordinance that patient advocates are calling a de facto ban on local distribution facilities. ASA argued in a letter sent to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith that the ordinance violates due process rights of medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives by forcing them to shut down in 30 days, leaving virtually no options for relocation.
Unless the city can "ease the restrictions on medical marijuana collectives, so that qualified patients can obtain the medicine they need," the letter authored by ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford said that the organization and its patient base would be compelled to seek such remedies in court. The letter suggested that the San Diego City Council amend its ordinance to allow "medical marijuana collectives to operate in most commercial and all industrial zones" and increase "the period to obtain a conditional use permit to one year."
The city council passed its ordinance on April 12th after months of feedback from hundreds of patients and experts. Virtually all of the requests for changes, including many from its own city-commissioned medical marijuana task force, were ignored. Advocates launched one of the largest letter-writing campaigns in the city's history, resulting in thousands of letters being sent to city council members and the mayor. The ordinance recently became law without the signature of Mayor Jerry Sanders.
San Diego has a long history of hostility toward medical marijuana. In 2006, the county sued the state over having to implement the ID Card program, mandatory under the Medical Marijuana Program Act passed in 2003. The county, which took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and lost, now provides ID cards to thousands of qualified patients. Each year since 2005, San Diego medical marijuana providers have endured numerous aggressive federal raids carried out in conjunction with local law enforcement.
After a series of DEA-led raids in September 2009, one month prior to the now-famous Justice Department memo, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis prosecuted two patients, both of whom were acquitted by juries. One of those patients, Jovan Jackson, was tried a second time and convicted as a result of being denied a medical defense. ASA, which argued against the denial of Jackson's defense at trial, is currently appealing his conviction.
ASA threatens to sue City of San Diego: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/San_Diego_Demand_Letter.pdf
San Diego medical marijuana ordinance: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/City_of_San_Diego_Ordinance.pdf
Tell the US Attorney to Quit Playing Politics with Patients!
This week, the US Attorney for Colorado, John Walsh, issued a politically-charged memo reminding Coloradans that his office reserves the right to prosecute medical marijuana patients (if Walsh doesn't believe they are “seriously ill”) and medical marijuana providers—including licensed dispensaries that arefollowing state laws! (See memo HERE)
This memo was one of five issued by U.S. Attorneys in different medical cannabis states in response to pending state medical marijuana legislation. While we think a large-scale crackdown on Colorado's MMJ licensees is unlikely and this memo is largely political, we need you to let John Walsh know that he should stop grandstanding to the detriment of sick patients and should TAKE ACTION to establish a Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado. Click above-- it only takes 1 minute to help!
Sensible Colorado is committed to working with government officials to secure patient access to medicine, and would happily serve on an Advisory Committee comprised of patients, doctors, law enforcement, industry professionals, government officials, and other stakeholders.
**To support Sensible's work on behalf of medical marijuana patients and providers click HERE.
Patients, Friends and Activists –
Obama’s administration has taken its gloves off. After giving the medical cannabis community a false sense of security, Obama’s administration continues to ignore state laws, intimidate state officials, and raid medical cannabis patients and facilities.
This month, ASA launched our new national campaign, and we are sending a clear message to President Obama from the medical cannabis community: We are sick and tired. We are suffering from chronic and debilitating conditions, and we are weary of false promises that do nothing to protect our rights as patients.
ASA’s Sick and Tired Campaign involves approaching the federal government from several angles, and we need your help to reach every corner of Obama’s administration.
Today, ASA released the Obama Report Card. This details federal interference in medical cannabis laws under the Obama administration, and Obama fails. Even though he promised to not use federal resources to interfere with states’ medical cannabis laws, Obama’s administration has continued raiding legal patients and facilities. Additionally, the administration has launched new tactics and constructed new roadblocks for patients, including issues related to patient privacy, access, banking, taxation, and threats of filing suite against state employees who participate in upholding state law.
Join us in calling on Obama to keep his promise. Sign ASA's petition urging Obama to end federal interference in existing medical cannabis programs, and legitimize medical cannabis for the sick and dying across the country.
But we’re not stopping there. ASA is hosting a National Day of Action on May 2, centered on Dale Schafer and Mollie Fry’s surrender date in Sacramento, CA. Mollie and Dale are legal patients and were arrested and convicted without a defense under President Bush. They appealed their sentence, which was vigorously fought by the Obama administration in the Ninth Circuit. Mollie and Dale's sentences were upheld in November. Additionally, a clemency petition was filed this week in an effort to shorten Mollie's sentence. Please mark your calendar to join ASA on May 2 and keep an eye out for Information about a rally near you.
ASA’s Sick and Tired Campaign will bring new accountability to Obama’s administration. Please help ASA hold Obama to his word and protect patients across the nation.
We are sick and tired, but we won’t give up until there’s safe access.
On The Web:
DC: Mayor to implement medical marijuana
Thanks to everyone who took action on our alert and contacted the mayor’s office!
We did it! Mayor Vince Gray announced today that the District will be implementing its medical marijuana program. The calls you made and the emails you sent in response to last week’s alert no doubt played a role in today’s announcement and helped illustrate the power of getting involved with local government.
The final regulations are scheduled to be included in the April 15 issue of the DC Register. Shortly thereafter, those interested in opening one of the five dispensaries and 10 cultivation centers in the District will be able to submit applications to the Department of Health. Seriously ill patients whose doctors recommend marijuana will also be able to send in their applications to become registered patients, although they will not be able to legally possess marijuana unless it was purchased from a licensed dispensary.
MPP, with your support, has been fighting for years to see this law take effect. Thanks to the District of Columbia Patients’ Cooperative, and to everyone who took the time to reach out to the mayor’s office, and congratulations to the patients who have waited all too long for this day. It’s been a pleasure working by your sides to make sure patients will finally be protected in the District.
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Our friends at the International Harm Reduction Association are holding their 22nd international conference -- this time in the Arab world, Beirut, Lebanon. The conference home page has a Twitter stream, and there are updates and photos being posted as well. Check it out -- I wish I were there, and you should too. :)