Medical Marijuana

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Cannabis and Cannabinoids in 21st Century Medicine: Medical Marijuana in the Clinic

Dr. David Bearman, a Santa Barbara, California physician and surgeon with Wisconsin roots, will be presenting at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Bearman is one of the most clinically knowledgeable physicians in the U.S. in the field of medical marijuana. He has spent 40 years working in substance and drug abuse treatment and prevention programs. Dr. Bearman was a pioneer in the free and community clinic movement. His career includes public health, administrative medicine, primary care, pain management and cannabinology. He is on the Board of Advisors for the group Patients Out of Time [] and worked closely with them to present the Fourth National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics in Santa Barbara, CA in April 2006. Contact Information: David Bearman, M.D. 805-961-9988, 7394 Calle Real, Suite C Goleta, CA 93117,
Tue, 11/13/2007 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm
750 Highland Avenue Room 1335 of the Health Sciences Learning Center
Madison, WI 53705
United States

Medical Marijuana Panel Discussion at Saint Joseph's University

Medicinal Use of Marijuana: A Panel Discussion Pro's and Con's Whether marijuana will relieve your side effects or symptoms is questionable. But the risks of smoking pot are clear. Examine the facts about marijuana before making your decision. Since 1996, twelve states have legalized medical marijuana use: AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MT, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, and WA. Eight of the twelve did so through the initiative process. The Institute of Medicine's 1999 report on medical marijuana stated, "The accumulated data indicate a potential therapeutic value for cannabinoid drugs, particularly for symptoms such as pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation." British Medical Journal: "The US Supreme Court has ruled unanimously against the medical use of marijuana, finding, by eight to nil, that because it is an illegal substance in federal law, no exceptions can be made, even for its medicinal use." Speakers include: *Rosanne Scotti, Esquire, Director, Drug Policy Alliance New Jersey *Sr. Patricia Talone, RSM, Ph.D, Vice President, Mission Services, Catholic Health Association *Kenneth R. Wolski, RN, MPA, Executive Director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana-New Jersey State Nurses Association
Wed, 11/14/2007 - 4:30pm
5600 City Avenue Mandeville Hall - Teletorium
Philadelphia, PA 19131
United States

Oregon Green Free Meeting

Patients, caregivers, growers, please join us. Everyone is invited -- this is open to the public! Get there early and have some pizza and refreshments. Door prizes, info, & more!
Wed, 11/07/2007 - 7:00pm
9234 SE Stark St.
Portland, OR 97216
United States

Oregon Medical Marijuana Program Meeting

Please join us at our next meeting! Some Agenda Items: - Latest Patient and DPC (Caregivers) related News and Announcements - Current Happenings – within the Program, with the Legislature, with Advocates - How to? Forms and etc. - FAQS, Facts and the Issues - Helping people who (1) need a Doctor, (2) need Medicine, (3) Grow Classes, (4) Cooking Classes and such. - Establishing tools for Networking: on-line and off – places to "bulletin board"? - Also, GlassWare Parties combined with Voter Registration and L-T-E (Letters To the Editor) action item ideas - and more! For more information contact MERCY – the Medical Cannabis Resource Center - by calling 503.363-4588 or visiting: One of the missions of MERCY is to help establish regular get-togethers in each community where there are (or will be!) medical cannabis patients. The purpose is to get patients networking and self-sufficient within their neighborhoods, assist those seeking information about the OMMP - but - especially to enable consistent, independent and free lines of communication for patients, caregivers and activists. The goal is to get reps from other meeting groups coming to exchange action items of interest to individuals, the group or other visiting reps, as well as sending our rep to their meetings. A network - a chain - of meetings up and down I-5 and across the state working in conjunction with e-mail lists and bulliten boards.
Mon, 12/03/2007 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm
1127 Long Street
Sweet Home, OR 97386
United States

ASA’s Media Summary for the Week Ending 11/2/07

ASA IN THE NEWS: Drew Carey Video Features ASA Executive Director

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

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

Drew Carey Defends Medical Marijuana
eMax Health
"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 video examining medical marijuana and the war on drugs.

FEDERAL: Hayward DEA Raid Leads to Arrests

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.

DOCTORS: Cannabis Specialists Provide Insights

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.

MONTANA: Suicide of Patient-Activist Draws Recriminations

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.

OREGON: Patient’s Case to Test Law’s Limits

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.'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.

DISPENSARIES: Land Use Planning the Question for California

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

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 BLOG: Comments from ASA Staff and Guests

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.


Find out more about ASA at More medical marijuana news summaries can be seen at

United States

Pay the Printer Party for O'Shaughnessy's

This event is presented by MedicalBoardWatch & Society of Cannabis Clinicians. It is a benefit for O'Shaughnessy's, the journal of record for the clinical use of cannabis, recording both the science, and the news. Come Support O'Shaughnessy's, and honor Dr. Tod who passed away May 20, 2007. Entertainment begins at 8:30 p.m., so we suggest arriving by 8:00 p.m. Short program begins at 9:00 p.m. Entertainment will include our editor, Fred Gardner, singing "Ballad of Grinspoon and Guy." Great food, live music (additional entertainment to be announced...) RSVP to so we know how many to expect and give directions to those confirmed. The event costs $100/person with a sliding scale upwards encouraged from those who can ($100 with sliding scale downwards possible for help with party). If finances are a problem and you know you belong here, email me and tell me about your service to the medical cannabis movement) If you can't attend, PLEASE send donations to: O'SHAUGHNESSY'S, P.O. Box 490 Alameda, CA, 94501
Sat, 11/10/2007 - 7:00pm - Sun, 11/11/2007 - 12:01am
Address and directions given on RSVP
United States

Press Release: California State Supreme Court to Hear Landmark Medical Marijuana Employment Discrimination Case on Tuesday

[Courtesy of Drug Policy Alliance] For Immediate Release: November 5, 2007 For More Info: Tony Newman, (646) 335-5384 or Tamar Todd (510) 593-4908 California State Supreme Court to Hear Landmark Medical Marijuana Employment Discrimination Case on Tuesday Gary Ross, Fired After Testing Positive for Medical Marijuana, Despite Using Off-Hours and in Accordance with California Law Leading Public Health Organizations File Amicus in Support of Gary Ross; Outcome May Affect Thousands of Working Californians Who Use Medicine to Relieve Chronic Pain On Tuesday, November 6, 2007, the California Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications, Inc., a case in which a lawful medical marijuana patient was fired by his employer after testing positive for medical marijuana he used during off-hours in accordance with his doctor’s recommendation for the treatment of severe pain. The case concerns Gary Ross, who treats his chronic pain and muscle spasms from a military injury with physician-recommended medical marijuana in compliance with California law. Mr. Ross provided the company with documentation of his legal status as a medical marijuana patient but was fired after eight days on the job because he tested positive for THC in a pre-employment drug test. Mr. Ross filed suit alleging wrongful termination but two lower courts sided with the employer, holding that the company did not discriminate against Mr. Ross based on his disability and chosen treatment. “The livelihoods of thousands of working Californians who are using medical marijuana in full compliance with state law are at stake in this case,” said Tamar Todd, staff attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance. Mr. Ross is represented by Joe Elford of Americans for Safe Access, who will be arguing that case in front of the California Supreme Court on Tuesday. The Drug Policy Alliance filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in support of Mr. Ross on behalf of leading national and state public health organizations, including the American Pain Foundation, the American Medical Women’s Association, the Lymphoma Foundation of America, the American Nurses Association, the California Nurses’ Association, the AIDS Action Council, the National Women’s Health Network, Doctors of the World – USA and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. The brief argues that patients should not be forced to choose between the best course of treatment or employment, and outlines the sound evidence that marijuana is medically appropriate treatment for chronic pain and other serious medical conditions. Signatories to the brief represent a powerful contingent of medical and public health organizations that represent a broad class of patient-employees. “These leading health organizations recognize the need for patients to be able to follow their doctors’ advice for pain relief and treatment without fear of being fired from their jobs for doing so,” said Todd. Oral argument is scheduled for November 6, 2007 at 9 a.m., in the California Supreme Court‘s Capitol courtroom, Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building, 914 Capitol Mall, Sacramento.
Sacramento, CA
United States

Americans for Safe Access Monthly Activist Newsletter

Defending Patients' Access to Medical Marijuana

  • November 2007
  • Volume 2, Issue 11

ASA Pressures Calif. Governor to Stand Up for Patients' Rights

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 rally at the governor's office The rally drew 300

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:


Patients Protest DEA Raid on Medicinal Edible Maker

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.

The Martin Family The Martin family in happier times

"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.

ASA at MS Society's National Meeting

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:

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


"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.

ASA Weighs in on California Caregiver Case

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.

United States

Drew Carey Kicks It with Steph Sherer

Dear Friend,

In this second episode of The Drew Carey Project, released on, 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:

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 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 today to become a member of ASA.

United States

Feature: Can Medical Marijuana Cost You Your Kid? In California, It Can

Ronnie Naulls never saw it coming. The church-going businessman, husband, and father of three young girls knew he was taking a risk when he opened a medical marijuana dispensary in Corona, a suburban community in the high desert of Riverside County east of Los Angeles.

Although he had played by the rules, obeyed all state laws, and successfully battled the city in court to stay open, Naulls knew there was a chance of trouble with law enforcement. He knew there was a chance of the federal DEA coming down on him, as it has done with at least 40 other dispensaries this year alone.
Naulls family (courtesy
But when they did come down on him, it was far worse than he ever imagined. At 6:00am on July 17, the quiet of Naulls' suburban neighborhood was disrupted by the whir of hovering helicopters as heavily armed DEA agents stormed his home and collective. They seized cash and marijuana, they seized his property, they seized his personal and business bank accounts. They arrested him on federal marijuana charges.

But that wasn't enough for the DEA. The raiders also called Child Protective Services (CPS). With Naulls already hustled off to jail, his wife sitting handcuffed in a police car, and his home in a shambles after being tossed by the DEA, CPS social workers said his three children were endangered and seized them. Naulls and his wife were also charged with felony child endangerment.

The three girls -- ages 1, 3, and 5 -- were held in protective foster care, with Naulls and his wife only able to see them during a one-hour supervised visit a week. "My oldest girl thought she was being punished for doing something wrong," he said. "When we went to visit her, she said, 'Daddy, we're ready to come home now, we promise to be good.'"

But the Naulls couldn't tell their children the only thing that would comfort them -- that they would be coming home soon. That would violate CPS regulations because it might not be true. In fact, it took five weeks of hearings and heartache before a family court judge decided the children would indeed be safe with their parents. But the child endangerment charges still stand.

"I was numb, totally flabbergasted, outraged, and left speechless," said Naulls. "They told my wife we were endangering the kids because of the medicine we had in the house, but we only had some in a refrigerator in the garage that has an alarmed door and my own medicine in a locked container in my office -- the DEA broke that lock. Would they treat us that way if it had been prescription Xanax?"

The DEA was not apologetic about its handiwork. A DEA spokesman confirmed that its people had called CPS. "Any time we do an operation where children are present, we have a responsibility to call CPS," said Special Agent Jose Martinez. "But we don't make the decision about whether the children are endangered."

While it would not discuss particulars of the Naulls case, the Children's Services Division of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, of which CPS is a part, denies that medical marijuana use or presence is a reason for removal of children on the filing of endangerment charges.

"Drugs alone does not constitute a reason for removal," said Susan Lowe, director of the division. "More relevantly, the issue of medical marijuana does not constitute a reason for us to remove children. There have to be other issues present that indicate neglect or abuse."

That claim brought a sharp response from Oakland-based attorney James Anthony, who represented Naulls on land use issues related to his dispensary. While he supported Lowe's statement of the Riverside County CPS policy, he said it didn’t reflect reality in the county.

"As a medical cannabis activist attorney and friend of the Naulls family, I would say that is very good news and seems to reflect a change of position -- or a position held at the top that has not filtered down yet to the working staff of CPS," said Anthony. "Riverside County CPS has an alarming reputation as quick to take children out of medical cannabis households and to press endangerment charges," he said. "The position the director laid out is exactly as it should be: medical cannabis is no more relevant to the best interests of children than any prescription drug -- the California Supreme Court said as much when it said that medical cannabis is as legal as any prescription drug," Anthony pointed out.

"In the Naulls case," Anthony continued, "what does the agency allege is the 'neglect or abuse'? Two loving parents? A nice middle-class home? Parents who care enough to avail themselves of legal, harmless, medicine to keep themselves well? The only abuse I'm aware of at the Naulls home was the abuse done by federal law enforcement when they invaded that home without warning and heavily armed -- terrorizing those poor children for no reason at all. The DEA could have called me and I would have advised my client to turn himself in -- it's not like he was hiding. If CPS wants to charge someone with child abuse, they should start with the DEA. Under their own standards as described here, there is no basis to prosecute Anisha Naulls for anything."

If there is any child abuse involved, it is coming from the state, agreed Richard Wexler, executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, a group concerned with abuses of the child protection system.

"What has been done to these children is government-sanctioned child abuse," Wexler said. "Whether one believes what Mr. Naulls did is legal or not, there is not a shred of evidence that running a medical marijuana co-op harms children -- and overwhelming evidence that foster care does children enormous harm," he said.

"The act of removal from everyone loving and familiar can traumatize a child for life, and the younger the child, the greater the likelihood for such harm," Wexler continued. "For a young enough child it's an experience akin to a kidnapping. Children often believe that they have done something terribly wrong and now they are being punished. That's reflected in one child telling her father 'Daddy, we're ready to come home now; we promise to be good.' All that harm occurs even when the foster home is a good one. The majority are. But several studies suggest that at least one in three foster children is abused in foster care. So these children have gone from a situation where they clearly were not abused, into foster care, where the odds are at least one in three that they will be abused," Wexler said.

"I warn all my dispensary clients that the federal government will try to capture and imprison you, but it hadn't occurred to me that the government will also kidnap your children," said Anthony. "It's just unbelievable, barbaric."

Anthony also works with Green Aid, a group originally set up to support Ed Rosenthal's legal battles with the feds in Northern California. Green Aid has set up a Naulls Family Defense Fund to aid the now impoverished family in its effort to stay together and out of prison.

Sadly, the Naulls are not alone. Veteran activists say child removals by CPS or the loss of custody battles in California family courts because of medical marijuana are not uncommon and becoming more frequent.

"Medical cannabis patients and providers getting their kids taken away is, unfortunately not new," said Angel McLary Raich, who won the first medical cannabis custody case in California in the wake of Proposition 215. Despite a variety of debilitating and life-threatening conditions, Raich and her patient outreach group Angel Wings, have since become a resource for other medical cannabis community members facing either the child protection bureaucracy or the vicissitudes of family court in child custody cases.

Raich, who is probably best known as the plaintiff in the Supreme Court's medical marijuana case, Raich v. Ashcroft, said involvement with medical cannabis as a factor in either child custody or abuse or endangerment cases is a recurring problem. "I know of many cases where the kids have been taken away permanently, others where they have to have supervised visitation."

"We think this kind of thing is horrible," said Noah Mamber, legal coordinator for Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the medical marijuana defense group. "Even as we are making progress on the criminal front, with the cops becoming better educated, as well as other areas like employment and housing, as the legal intake person for ASA I find myself taking many, many calls where medical cannabis is an issue for CPS or in family court. I've probably had 30 or 40 in the last couple of years, and those are just the people who call us."

That means there is work to do, activists said. Some are undertaking an educational process with the family courts and CPS, while others are looking to the legislature for relief.

"No one seems to understand medical marijuana in this context," said Mamber. "There seems to be an unfortunate bias in CPS workers and family court judges. There are cases where there are no other issues except medical marijuana, and they will force them to quit taking their medicine if they want their kids. It is absolutely true that there are cases where patient parents are being treated unfairly by CPS and the family court system."

"An educational process for the courts and agencies is definitely needed," said Anthony. "They can act with the best of intentions, yet wield an incredibly devastating impact on families because of their lack of knowledge."

Raich pioneered such educational work in Alameda County. The work continues, she said. "I'm working on training law enforcement and dealing with CPS and family court," she said. "That's my real passion. I cannot tolerate watching other people lose their kids over this stuff. It is just so wrong."

If anyone is having problems with CPS or family court over medical marijuana issues, call her, Raich said. Her number is in the Oakland phone book and contact information is on her web site.

ASA is working to even the playing field for patients through legislative action, Mamber said. "As it is now, family courts and CPS don't seem to be aware of Prop. 215 and Senate Bill 420, so we need legislation to guide them. We have drafted a bill that would amend the child protection law so that the medical marijuana status of a parent cannot be the sole basis for removal of a child," he explained. "They need to quit forcing patients to stop taking their medicine. This measure won't stop CPS from doing its job, but it will stop it from persecuting medical marijuana patients."

All that is going to take time. In the meantime, said Raich, medical marijuana patients or providers with children need to play it extremely safe. "Make sure you're being a good parent," she said. "Make sure your cannabis is out of reach of the children, make sure your house is clean, there are no hazards, always plenty of milk and formula on hand. Don't grow in the house, don't dry in the house, don't have more pot than food in the refrigerator. Take a parenting class. Know what you need to do. And if the cops come to the door, don't let them in without a warrant."

As for Ronald Naulls, he's still a bit shell-shocked. "I'm a businessman and a network engineer. I don't have a criminal record and I don't want to go to jail. I don't want to have to fight the state to keep my daughters. I'm praying for God's love, and I ask everyone to pray for me. But this is more than just about me, this is a fight for the patients and for my family."

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