- ASA IN THE NEWS: Drew Carey Video Features ASA Executive Director
- FEDERAL: Hayward DEA Raid Leads to Arrests
- DOCTORS: Cannabis Specialists Provide Insights
- MONTANA: Suicide of Patient-Activist Draws Recriminations
- OREGON: Patient’s Case to Test Law’s Limits
- DISPENSARIES: Land Use Planning the Question for California
- ASA BLOG: Comments from ASA Staff and Guests
In addition to speaking with a Los Angeles police officer and a Vietnam veteran who uses medical cannabis, comedian, actor and now game-show-host Drew Carey interviews ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer, who tells Carey how federal raids on medical cannabis collectives in the San Francisco Bay Area led to the founding of Americans for Safe Access. To view this episode of the Drew Carey Project, please visit www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/DrewCarey.
Drew Carey defends medical marijuana in new online video
by Sandy Cohen, Associated Press
Bob Barker famously closed each episode of "The Price Is Right" with a pitch to spay and neuter pets. His successor is taking a stand on a more controversial subject: marijuana. Drew Carey won't tout toking up on "Price," but he defends the use of medical marijuana in a video posted online Thursday on Reason.tv.
Drew Carey Defends Medical Marijuana
"I think it's clear by now that the federal government needs to reclassify marijuana. People who need it should be able to get it -- safely and easily," says The Price Is Right and Power of 10 host Drew Carey in a new Reason.tv video examining medical marijuana and the war on drugs.
DEA spokespeople have made much of the revenues they claim a Hayward medical cannabis collective enjoyed. They fail to note that the reason for an increase in revenue has been the systematic closing of the other dispensaries in the area, forcing the county’s many patients to one location. The increased revenue reflects an increased volume of patients more than profiteering. ASA's rapid response program again meant that the media was alerted immediately, helping ensure full coverage, and patients and activists were notified by text messages and emails so they could protest at the main dispensary location.
Feds raid seven East Bay medical pot sites
Bay Area News Group
Federal officials raided seven locations in the East Bay this morning that were connected to a medical marijuana dispensary in Hayward, officials said.
Medical-pot brothers held on drug charges
by Henry K. Lee, San Francisco Chronicle
Two East Bay brothers were arrested Tuesday after being indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that they ran a large-scale drug operation from a Hayward medical marijuana club from which proceeds were delivered to a bank by armored car, authorities said.
Two brothers arrested, accused of drug dealing
by Jason Sweeney, Paul Thissen and Scott Marshall, Mercury News (San Jose)
Federal agents arrested two brothers early Tuesday and seized a Lafayette house after they were indicted on charges that they ran a multimillion-dollar drug operation out of a Hayward-area medical-marijuana collective.
While doctors generally acknowledge that there are conditions and patients for whom cannabis can be effective, many prefer to refer their patients to cannabis specialists who have the education to counsel patients properly on the indications for appropriate treatment. Critics attempt to characterize those specialists as capitalizing on legal loopholes, but the reality of doctors such as those profiled here is that they provide a crucial service to patients who would otherwise be vulnerable to arrest for using cannabis therapeutically.
Doctor calls pot good medicine
by Jason Kotowski, Bakersfield Californian
Doctors who recommend medical marijuana say it helps treat everything from nausea caused by cancer treatment to spinal pain. Multiple sclerosis. Anorexia. Anxiety. Muscle spasms. Insomnia.
I-Team Investigation: Who Is Doc 420?
by Dan Noyes, KGO TV - ABC News (San Francisco)
California voters approved medical marijuana in 1996. It was meant for patients with serious illnesses, such as AIDS, cancer or glaucoma. However, there are new questions whether medical marijuana is too easily available, especially for people who aren't even sick.
The tragic death of a Montana medical marijuana patient has been the subject of heartache and anger for many: heartache over the suffering that led her to take her own life, anger at the federal authorities who effectively cut off her supply to the one pain-control medication that worked.
Protected to Death
by Jacob Sullum, Reason Online
Last March, when the Drug Enforcement Administration seized less than half an ounce of cannabis that Robin Prosser, a Missoula lupus patient and medical marijuana activist, had been sent by her caregiver, the special agent in charge of the DEA's Rocky Mountain Field Division said it was "protecting people from their own state laws." Last week, unable to find a reliable supply of the only drug that relieved her pain without causing unacceptable side effects, Prosser killed herself. Although the use of medical marijuana is legal in Montana, friends say suppliers were spooked by the DEA. Writing in the Helena Independent Record, activist Tom Daubert calls Prosser's death "a direct result of DEA actions."
A tragic casualty in federal war on medical marijuana
by Tom Daubert, OpEd, Helena Independent Record (MT)
The nation's Drug Enforcement Administration agents can sleep a little easier tonight. They now have one less medical-marijuana patient to worry about policing. That's because Montana's leading medical marijuana patient-activist took her own life two weeks ago, a direct result of DEA actions earlier this year.
Two factors have made the case of an Oregon patient a lightening rod for the state’s medical marijuana law: the proximity of the patient’s home garden to a high school and his processing of the cannabis to make a more potent extract. At least the second issue should be easily dealt with. Extracts of the cannabis plant such as hash and tinctures entail no chemical alterations, merely a concentration of the active ingredients, meaning it’s no different than growing strains that have more or less THC content.
Keizer Medical Marijuana Case Ignores Oregon Law
by Neal Feldman, Salem News (OR)
Anthony Wyatt Beasley probably did not wake up Friday, October 19th 2007 thinking he would be a lightning rod and a focal point in a legal dispute, but that is what he has become. A standard bearer, willing or not, for the medical marijuana law of Oregon and the thousands of card holders in the state.
Thoughts on Keizer's Controversial Medical Marijuana Case
by Tim King, Salem News (OR)
The Keizer medical marijuana case against Anthony Beasely has been a hot topic in the local community. Salem-News.com's Neal Feldman wrote a commentary this week (Keizer Medical Marijuana Case Ignores Oregon Law) that lays blame on the city of Keizer for not upholding the rules authorized by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.
As medical cannabis dispensing collectives have proliferated around the state, more and more patients have come to rely on them for the consistency and safety of the access they provide, as well as social support services. And for patients who are unfamiliar with strains of cannabis or methods of delivery – vaporizing, edibles, tinctures, etc. – dispensaries provide information. Communities that have enacted regulatory ordinances report success in both serving those patient needs and assuaging community concerns. For more, see ASA’s report at AmericansForSafeAccess.org/DispensaryReport.
County has options on medical pot shops
KGET NBC TV (Bakersfield)
The county has a lot of options when it comes to medical marijuana dispensaries, and County Supervisors will get a chance to choose one Tuesday.
County Planning Commission debates medical marijuana dispensary in Templeton
by Stacy Daniel, KSBY - NBC TV 6 (San Luis Obispo)
The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission weighs the pros and cons of having a medical marijuana dispensary in Templeton.
ASA's blog is helping keep activists informed on the issues and events affecting medical marijuana patients and providers.
California Round Up
by Sonnet Seeborg Gabbard
ASA and Orange County Medical Marijuana Activists Achieve a Victory for Safe Access; DEA Strikes East Bay Collective and Facilities; DEA Raids Orange County Collective and Operator’s Home
DEA Raids Hayward Dispensaries, but Activists Don’t Stand Down
by Justin Alan Ryan
Beginning early in the morning, October 30, 2007, the DEA raided several locations connected to Compassionate Patients’ Cooperative of California (CPCC).
Steph Sherer Shares Her Story with Drew Carey
by Rebecca Saltzman
If you’re familiar with ASA’s work, you’ve probably heard about our executive director, Steph Sherer. What you might not know is that she is a medical marijuana patient. Drew Carey recently interviewed Steph as part of The Drew Carey Project.
A Sad Day in Montana, and across the Country - In Remembrance of Robin Prosser
by Kris Hermes
It is a sad day for the people of Montana, medical marijuana advocates, and people anywhere who are sympathetic to the plight of the sick and dying. Robin Prosser, a Missoula, Montana medical marijuana patient, and a powerful activist fighting for the rights of patients, took her life on October 18.
MORE ABOUT AMERICANS FOR SAFE ACCESS
Press Release: California State Supreme Court to Hear Landmark Medical Marijuana Employment Discrimination Case on Tuesday
Defending Patients' Access to Medical Marijuana
- November 2007
- Volume 2, Issue 11
Schwarzenegger Asked to Resist Federal Interference in Medical Marijuana Program
In response to the dramatic increase in federal raids on California's medical marijuana patients and caregivers, Americans for Safe Access this month organized a campaign to convince Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to stand up for his state's most vulnerable citizens.
The campaign—which included more than 40,000 postcards to the Governor, as well as hundreds of phone calls and emails, all urging him to take action to defend patients' rights—included a meeting with a representative of the governor on October 5. Governor Schwarzenegger's chief advisor for health and transportation spent an hour with ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer and ASA California Director Don Duncan, discussing how medical marijuana patients and providers in California are being victimized in the state-federal conflict. The advisor assured them that the governor's office has received hundreds of cards from ASA supporters and is well aware of the issue. ASA's constituents have the governor's ear, she said, and the governor is listening.
Six days after the meeting, more than 300 medical marijuana patients and advocates gathered at the governor's Los Angeles office for a rally urging the governor to act.
People began gathering in front of the governor's office over an hour before the event. By the time the rally began, the crowd took up almost the entire block, spilling into the streets and chanting, "support patients' rights, stand up and fight," and "we're patients, not criminals!" Many held movie-marquee style signs with such slogans as “Coming Soon: The Gov. in End of DEA Days.”
The Los Angeles City Council was represented at the rally by Brian Perry, a staff member in Council Member Dennis Zine's office, who read a prepared statement, saying, "this year has seen a dramatic increase in federal law enforcement activity surrounding medical cannabis, including raids, confiscation of medicine and plants, and indictments." Council member Zine, a former Los Angeles police officer, has been leading the City Council in working on city regulations for the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries. The LA City Council has publicly condemned the recent federal raids and asked the DEA to not interfere as the regulatory process goes forward.
Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby also sent a statement of support, and other speakers included Sherer, Duncan and Michael Martin, the former medical marijuana edible maker who was recently raided by the DEA. The rally ended on a somber note, as the crowd went silent to hear medical marijuana patient Stephanie Landa, 60, say a few words by speakerphone from federal prison, where she is serving a 41-month sentence. The rally got extensive coverage from local LA media, which reaches 10 million people.
Advocates are also urging the governor to discourage state and local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with federal medical marijuana raids. Governor Schwarzeneg-ger is also being encouraged to join New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and other governors in states with medical marijuana laws to change federal policy.
This year alone, the DEA and other federal agencies have conducted more than 44 raids of California patients and providers, more than double the number of the two previous years.
Meanwhile, Governor Schwarzenegger has allocated more than $1 million to fund a statewide ID card program, and the state has established sales tax rules for dispensaries. Since 1996, more than 30 cities and counties have adopted regulations for dispensaries.
ASA's campaign will continue until the governor takes action to stop federal interference in California's medical marijuana program. See: AmericansForSafeAccess.org/StandUp.
Feds Deny Patients Access to Alternative to Smoking
On October 4th, ASA activists and medical marijuana patients gathered in protest at the Oakland Federal Building, as an activist turned himself in to federal authorities to face charges that he supplied edible medical cannabis products to other patients.
Surrounded by protestors carrying signs reading, "DEA: Keep your hands out of the medical marijuana cookie jar," Michael Martin, 33, spoke to the press before surrendering. Martin condemned the ongoing raids in California, with his wife, Elinor; their sons, 3-year-old Tyler and 5-month-old Lucas; and his mother by his side.
"I believe truly in my heart that I have done nothing wrong," Martin said outside the Oakland Federal Building. "We must put a stop to this travesty and, as a community, speak up and defend a patients' right to use safer alternatives of medication as they and their doctors see fit."
Federal prosecutors had issued an arrest warrant for Martin in connection with raids the previous week on Tainted, Inc., a maker of baked goods and other medical marijuana edibles. He was released later that day on a $300,000 bond; he faces charges that could result in more than 20 years in prison and $1 million in fines. Three others who worked at Tainted were charged along with Martin; all three are free on $200,000 bond.
Edible cannabis products provide an alternative to smoking cannabis and are preferred by many patients. Ordinances allowing for the sale of edibles by dispensaries have been adopted by many local officials, including the County of Los Angeles, the County of Alameda, and the City of Oakland, where the raids on Tainted, Inc. occurred. The medical cannabis products made by Tainted, Inc. carry prominent warning labels and are available only to qualified patients through dispensaries.
"Since I cannot smoke cannabis, I rely on edibles to control my pain and to allow me to sleep through the night," said Lenny Fisher, a 54-year-old cancer patient who has used Tainted's medical marijuana products.
The development of delivery methods that do not involve smoking was one of the recommendations of the White House commissioned 1999 Institute of Medicine Report on medical marijuana. While long-term studies of chronic marijuana users have shown that there is no associated risk of lung cancer or other diseases, many patients remain concerned about smoking cannabis or find oral ingestion to be easier or more effective.
This month, ASA staff members traveled to Dallas, Texas for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's 2007 National Conference, the second time ASA has participated in the MS Society's annual gathering. The meeting was an opportunity to continue building a coalition of condition-based groups and expand ASA's MS Patients' Union.
ASA had an educational outreach exhibit at the conference where staff discussed safe access to marijuana with people living with MS, their family-members, caregivers, and advocates. The ASA staff attending — Executive Director Steph Sherer, Director of Government Affairs Caren Woodson and Field Coordinator Sonnet Seeborg Gabbard — were able to broaden their knowledge about both the National MS Society and the innovations in Multiple Sclerosis research and treatment.
Many people remembered ASA from last year's conference. Others were introduced to medical cannabis as treatment for symptoms associated with MS for the first time. Building on the momentum generated from an article published earlier this year by InsideMS, "Considering Cannabis," ASA has been educating MS Society chapter leaders, members, and staff on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis for treating several symptoms associated with MS, such as spasticity and other movement disorders, intractable nerve pain, and inflammation. To read more about cannabis and MS, visit: AmericansforSafeAccess.org/ms_booklet.
Since ASA participated in last year's conference, the National MS Society has implemented a Cannabis Task Force, led by MS expert, Dr. Alan J. Thompson, to, "review published studies on medical marijuana and make recommendations." Read more about the task force in the Considering Cannabis article at www.nationalmssociety.org.
"There was a lot of interest about ways to ingest marijuana without smoking it, and people were generally surprised by how much progress we have made in 10 years," said Woodson. "We also heard some heartbreaking stories about loved ones with cancer and how much they would have liked another option for pain and wasting."
The broad-spectrum therapeutic nature of cannabis makes it a good choice for many people with a variety of conditions, such as arthritis, chronic pain, gastro-intestinal problems, and movement disorders such as Parkinson's.
With cancer more prevalent with aging, the well-established benefits of cannabis for coping with the devastating side-effects of chemotherapy are also of interest to older Americans.
Amicus Brief to State Supreme Court to Clarify Who Qualifies
How California courts define a qualified medical marijuana caregiver should be clearer once a new case is decided. The ASA legal team has filed a friend of the court brief in a pending California Supreme Court case, People v. Mentch, which will help decide who can legally provide medical marijuana to patients.
Because the California electorate and legislature have declared that marijuana is medicine, it is ASA's position that consistently cultivating marijuana for a qualified patient is enough to establish one's status as a primary caregiver. The Attorney General, on the other hand, has argued that one must do more, such as house, feed, or clothe the qualified patient.
Since the passage of the Compassionate Use Act over a decade ago, California courts have struggled to determine what a person must do to establish himself as the primary caregiver for a qualified patient. Just providing marijuana is not enough, several courts have said, to even argue caregiver status as a defense at trial. ASA's amicus brief seeks a definition of primary caregiver that is more faithful to the language of the Compassionate Use Act and the voters' intent.
In this second episode of The Drew Carey Project, released on Reason.tv, Drew interviews ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer and takes a look at federal interference with medical cannabis dispensing in California.
Check out the video at: www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/DrewCarey
The video is the second episode of a joint project between Drew and Reason, The Drew Carey Project. Its mission is to create “a series of video documentaries that take a hard look at the variety of threats to our liberties -- and celebrate what it really means to be free.”
In the video, Steph shares her story with Drew and talks about how her own experiences led to her founding of Americans for Safe Access. Drew also visits a Los Angeles dispensary and goes on to interview Steve Whitmore, spokesperson for the LA County Sheriff’s Department, as well as Bill Leahy, Vietnam vet and medical marijuana patient.
Share this episode of the Drew Carey Project with your friends and family! We know medical cannabis improves the lives of millions of people and we know that the federal interference with state medical marijuana laws is outrageous. But unless we share Drew's report with friends and family who might not support our views or who might not feel as passionately as we do, we will lose a great opportunity to reach out and educate people about medical cannabis and the threats facing patients nationwide. So please forward this email and share Drew Carey’s report on Medical Marijuana!
Enjoy watching Drew’s report at www.AmericansForSafeAccess.org/DrewCarey and please remember to share it!
Thank you,Rebecca Saltzman
Chief of Staff
Americans for Safe Access
P.S. The only way we can continue our work and educate people about medical cannabis is with support from people like you. Please visit www.AmericansforSafeAccesss.org/Donate today to become a member of ASA.