Patients, Activists, and Friends—
In the past few months, United States Attorneys General in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont have issued letters threatening federal action against any entity, including state employees, participating in state sanctioned medical cannabis programs. While our community has seen these types of letters under previous administrations, it is disappointing to see President Obama sanction this behavior.
While many promises have been made by Obama to end raids on the medical cannabis community, these DOJ threat letters are yet another tactic of the federal government to interfere with patients’ right to safe access. ASA recently issued Obama’s Medical Cannabis Report Card, showing he has failed at improving conditions for our community. These threat letters are further evidence of the broken promises of the current administration and proof that our community is under attack.
Over the next couple of weeks, our community must call upon our state representatives for leadership. We must urge our governors, whether they have received a threat letter or not, to join Americans for Safe Access in a push back against the U.S. Attorneys who have issued these threat letters against our community.
In order to make this campaign a success, your governors needs to hear from you. As a constituent, ask for his or her leadership against federal interference. Call your governor today and use the following script. Please find contact information for your governor below. The District of Columbia should reach out to Mayor Gray whose number is listed below, and also included in the electronic action alert.
Governor (or Mayor for DC Residents)—
As a concerned medical cannabis community member and your constituent, I am worried about the impact these threat letters from the Department of Justice and the potential for federal interference will have on safe access to medical cannabis in my state. Letters have been issued to eight states so far, and we need to send a message asserting our state’s right to safe access. We need you the lead the charge to end federal interference and work toward creating policies that will resolve the federal conflict once and for all.
You may also participate in our online action alert by clicking here to ask your governor and congressional leaders to take a stand for safe access.
Americans for Safe Access
REPRESENTATIVE CONTACT INFORMATION
Governor Sean Parnell
Tel: (907) 465-3500
Governor Jan Brewer
Governor Jerry Brown
Governor John Hickenlooper
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Mayor Vincent Gray
Governor Jack Markell
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Governor Paul LePage
Governor Marin O'Malley
Governor Rick Snyder
Governor Brian Schweitzer
Governor Brain Sandoval
Governor Chris Christie
Governor Susana Martinez
Governor John Kitzhaber
Governor Lincolin Chafee
Tel:(401)277-2080 ext 227
Governor Peter Shumlin
Governor Christine Gregorie
On The Web:
Medical marijuana patients across the country are under attack!
Despite the Obama Administration's promise to respect state laws, lawyers in the federal government are now threatening to arrest and prosecute people who are legally licensed to grow medical marijuana under state law.
These ideologues are trying to block sensible regulation – and they've already succeeded in Washington State.
We must stop them from erasing all the progress we've made and from leaving patients out in the cold.
Back in 2009, the Obama Administration said they wouldn't use "justice department resources to circumvent state laws" on medical marijuana. They've kept their promise for the past two years, even issuing a memo that made this hands-off approach official policy.
But now, federal government lawyers are intimidating states with new medical marijuana programs in an attempt to end these programs before they even get started. It's already happened in Washington State, where the governor vetoed a promising medical marijuana bill. And if these threats continue, they could jeopardize our efforts in every state where medical marijuana legislation is on the table.
These lawyers are playing politics with the lives of patients who need medical marijuana to cope with debilitating pain and nausea. Take action now and ask the Attorney General to keep the Administration's promise to leave state medical marijuana programs alone.
To put a stop to these scare tactics, we don't need any laws changed – we just need the Attorney General to tell the handful of people sending the threats to stop.
Then please spread the word – everything we've worked so hard to achieve is at risk!
Thank you again for your help.
Drug Policy Alliance
NEWS ADVISORY: May 11, 2011
CONTACT: Tom Angell - 202-557-4979 or email@example.com
Cops Attend Candlelight Vigil and Say "Legalize Drugs" to Honor Fallen Colleagues
Peace Officers Memorial Day Expected to Draw Tens of Thousands to Washington, DC
WASHINGTON, DC -- In conjunction with Peace Officers Memorial Day, some police are pointing out how too many law enforcers are killed in the line of duty enforcing a senseless and unwinnable "war on drugs." The group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), is calling for the legalization and regulation off all drugs, and they're telling stories about their fallen friends and colleagues to back up their case.
"When one of my best friends was killed doing an undercover drug purchase, it opened my eyes to the fact that not only are these drug laws ineffective, but they lead to brave and dedicated law enforcers losing their lives," said Neill Franklin, a 34-year veteran of the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department, now LEAP's executive director. "Ed Toatley was one of the best narcotics agents the state of Maryland ever had, but this failed drug war wasn't worth him losing his life over."
See http://copssaylegalize.blogspot.com/2011/05/remembering-our-fallen-comrades.html for more information about Ed Toatley's story.
WHO: Former police officers who support legalizing drugs
WHAT: Candlelight vigil in remembrance of fallen colleagues
WHEN: Friday, May 13 @ 7:30 PM EST
WHERE: National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial; on E St. between 4th and 5th Sts., NW, Washington, DC
The candlelight vigil, which officially begins at 8:00 PM, is sponsored by the National Law Enforcers Memorial Fund and is part of National Police Week. 25,000 to 40,000 police officers and family members are expected to attend official events over the course of the week. The group of pro-legalization police officers will be available for on-site press interviews around 7:30 PM, before the start of the vigil.
More information about Police Week can be found at http://www.policeweek.org/schedule.html.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison warders, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 10, 2011
Maryland Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Defense and Study Bill
Gov. O’Malley Fulfills Promise to Offer Limited Patient Protections
CONTACT: Morgan Fox, communications manager………………………..202-905-2031 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ANNAPOLIS – Maryland became the 16th state to remove criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana today when Gov. Martin O’Malley signed SB 308 as promised. The bill allows seriously ill patients to avoid prosecution when charged with marijuana possession and creates a commission to study medical marijuana laws and make recommendations on how Maryland can institute such a program. This is the first time since 2003 that additional protections were considered, and it’s an important step toward protecting medical marijuana patients from arrest and ensuring that they have safe access to their medicine.
“We’re very happy that the Governor signed this bill into law and listened with compassion to seriously ill Marylanders who use marijuana to treat their conditions,” said Dan Riffle, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We look forward to the study group created here making helpful recommendations to further protect such patients.”
Under the new law, individuals diagnosed with debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer or multiple sclerosis, can avoid conviction if charged with the non-public use or possession of one ounce or less of marijuana. An existing sentencing mitigation will remain part of the law, meaning patients who don’t qualify for the full affirmative defense would still have the opportunity to present evidence of medical necessity and have their sentence reduced to a $100 fine. In addition, a work group consisting of medical, legal, and law enforcement experts would be convened to recommend more comprehensive legislation next year. Advocates hope to be able to use that recommendation to pass a bill that offers patients complete protection from arrest and prosecution.
The work group should have the ability to observe a well-regulated medical marijuana program run by their neighbors in the District of Columbia. In April, the District began implementation of its long-awaited medical marijuana program by accepting applications for licensed and well-regulated cultivation centers and dispensaries. That program should be fully operational later this year.
With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.
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: