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ASA Sponsored Resolution Calls for Federal Change

Dear ASA Supporter,

California Senator Mark Leno (D-SF) introduced Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 14 yesterday. This ASA-sponsored resolution calls on the President and US Congress to end medical cannabis raids in California and to "create a comprehensive federal medical marijuana policy that ensures safe and legal access to any patient that would benefit from it." If adopted, SJR 14 will be the first time a state legislature has officially called for a change in federal medical cannabis policies.

Please help ASA get SJR 14 adopted by making a special contribution of $100 today.

The President and US Attorney General Eric Holder have talked about a new federal policy concerning medical cannabis, but there is still a lot of work to do in defining what that policy will be. SJR 14 supports ASA's National Policy Agenda and is part of our strategic campaign to shape a more reasonable and compassionate federal policy - one that ensures safe and legal access for all patients nationwide.

The resolution calls on the President and the US Congress to (1) end federal raids, intimidation, and interference with state medical cannabis laws; (2) adopt policies and laws to encourage advanced clinical research trials into the therapeutic use of cannabis; (3) provide for an affirmative defense to medical cannabis charges in federal court; and (4) to create comprehensive federal medical cannabis policy that ensures safe and legal access for patients.

SJR 14 is an opportunity for the California legislature to influence the development of the new federal policy, defend the state's right to choose and regulate medical cannabis, and to defend the compassionate will of the voters. But, we only have a short time to get this resolution through committees and floor votes in the State Senate and Assembly.

Please support ASA by donating today so that we can get SJR 14 adopted right away!

Thank you for your help,

Rebecca Saltzman
Chief of Staff
Americans for Safe Access

P.S. For more information on SJR 14, visit
United States

Holder Renews Pledge to Respect Medical Marijuana Laws

In case anyone forgot, the new administration promises to be nicer about medical marijuana:

ALBUQUERQUE — The nation’s top cop said Friday that marijuana dispensaries participating in New Mexico’s fledgling medical marijuana program shouldn’t fear Drug Enforcement Agency raids, a staple of the Bush administration.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking in Albuquerque during a meeting focused on border issues, including drug trafficking, said his department is focused "on large traffickers," not on growers who have a state’s imprimatur to dispense marijuana for medical reasons.

"For those organizations that are doing so sanctioned by state law, and doing it in a way that is consistent with state law, and given the limited resources that we have, that will not be an emphasis for this administration," Holder said. [New Mexico Independent]

Notwithstanding a couple of questionable raids that have taken place since Holder took office, it's good to hear him keep repeating this. The more he says it, the more scrutiny he'll be subjected to if DEA continues to push its luck. Personally, I'm not expecting the complete elimination of federal interference with state medical marijuana laws, but I think it will become clear over time that the situation has improved.

Still, Holder and Obama shouldn't get a pass on this ridiculous "limited resources" excuse for respecting state medical marijuana laws. The issue enjoys tremendous public support and there's no reason the new administration can’t come right out and acknowledge that the Bush policy was just cruel. Pretending it's about money is disgusting and wrong. Note to reporters: next time someone in the administration tries to portray the new medical marijuana policy as a matter of conserving law enforcement resources, ask whether they'd continue the raids if their budget was bigger.

Furthermore, the feds are still trying to put Charlie Lynch in prison for operating a perfectly legal dispensary in California. His sentencing will take place this Thursday, assuming it doesn’t get postponed yet again. Click here to email the Dept. of Justice and tell them to let Charlie go.

If these guys are sick of answering questions about marijuana policy, freeing Charlie Lynch is by far their best move.

Medical Marijuana: Rhode Island Dispensary Bill Passes House, Now Goes for Final Senate Approval

Rhode Island is poised to become the first state to expand an existing medical marijuana law to allow for the operation of dispensaries after the House Wednesday gave final approval a bill that would do just that. The bill passed by a whopping -- and veto-proof -- majority of 64-4.
Rhode Island State House
The bill, SB 185, now goes back to the Senate for final approval. The Senate earlier approved its version of the bill by a margin of 35-2 and is expected to easily pass the final version next Tuesday.

Gov. Donald Carcieri, no friend to medical marijuana, is likely to veto the bill. But given the overwhelming vote in favor of the bill, an override vote seems destined to succeed.

The bill would allow up to three dispensaries to grow and sell marijuana to patients in the state's medical marijuana program. The 2006 bill legalizing medical marijuana in the state -- after the legislature overrode a Carcieri veto -- did not have any provision for providing marijuana for patients.

The push for the bill was led by the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition and the Marijuana Policy Project.

Medical Marijuana: Veterans Administration Says Positive Marijuana Drug Screening Will Not Void Pain Contracts for Vets with Doctors' Recommendations

The Veterans Affairs watchdog group VA Watchdog reported last week that the VA will not remove veterans with medical marijuana recommendations who test positive for pot from its pain management programs. Just don't bring your medicine to a VA facility.

In recent years, vets who use marijuana medicinally have been thrown out of VA pain management programs as "drug abusers" after testing positive for marijuana. This policy shift will provide some solace, but only to those vets residing in states where medical marijuana is an option.

The VA has clarified its policy. While restating that it remains illegal to use or possess marijuana at VA facilities because of federal law, the agency will now accept medical marijuana use in states where it is legal:

"[I]t is acknowledged that testing positive for marijuana in a patient, based upon a random drug screening, will not serve as a breach of the current pain management agreement if the patient submits documentation in support of the marijuana being prescribed and dispensed in conformity with Michigan law," wrote Gabriel Perez, director of the Lutz Veterans Affairs Center in Saginaw, Michigan.

According to VA Watchdog, the policy appears to be the same in all states where medical marijuana is allowed under state law. But the VA has not released an official policy statement on the matter.

Job Opportunity: Legal Coordinator, Americans for Safe Access, Oakland, CA

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 uses and research. ASA works in partnership with state, local and national legislators to overcome barriers and create policies that improve access to cannabis for patients and researchers. ASA has more than 30,000 active members with chapters and affiliates in more than 40 states.

ASA provides legal training for and medical information to patients, attorneys, health and medical professionals and policymakers throughout the United States. ASA also organizes media support for court cases, rapid response to law enforcement raids, and capacity-building for advocates. ASA's successful lobbying, media and legal campaigns have resulted in important court precedents, new sentencing standards, and more compassionate community guidelines

The mission of Americans for Safe Access is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic uses and research.

The Legal Coordinator will answer and document calls from medical marijuana patients who have had law enforcement and other legal encounters and provide them with legal information, update legal materials, and be responsible for day-to-day support of the Chief Counsel. The position is supervised and accountable to the Chief of Staff and Chief Counsel. This is a full-time, salaried position based out of ASA's Oakland, California office.

Specific tasks and responsibilities include providing information in response to questions concerning criminal defense, housing, employment and other issues as they relate to medical marijuana patients; maintaining a legal database; supporting defendants and attorneys dealing with federal trials; researching and drafting a "California Legal Tip" monthly; managing content for a "brief bank" on ASA's web site (motions to dismiss, etc.); maintaining and updating the legal FAQ, medical marijuana prisoners page, landmark decisions page, pending federal cases web page, and other pages in the legal section of the website; maintaining existing "How to Become a Legal Patient" web pages as state laws change; coordinating the recruitment of potential plaintiffs (i.e. develop criteria, create and post e-alert/distribute flyer, interview candidates, create synopses); maintaining existing plaintiff base with updates as they occur; researching and advising staff; tracking status of federal defendants by maintaining relationships with defendants, attorneys, and supporters; advising staff regarding the legal ramifications of various state & federal legislation; researching and drafting language for various legislative efforts; advising organizers in medical marijuana states, including facilitating the creation of ASA's "How to Defend a Medical Marijuana Patient" attorneys' guide and trainings; interfacing with campaign staff; assisting with emergency response efforts when federal raids occur; recruiting and coordinating activities of any interns/fellows working in the legal department; administratively assisting in the preparation of legal documents for filing; communicating via email with grassroots regarding landmark decisions, ASA court filings, ASA legal victories, important criminal/civil cases, etc.; writing and editing articles on legal matters for ASA publications; attending and speaking at conferences in order to network and build a body of educated attorneys nationally; and placing legal manuals on legal websites and in law schools across the country.

Experience and qualifications include a commitment to the mission and goals of Americans for Safe Access; knowledge of the law desirable; computer literacy, and comfortable with acquiring new skills; exceptional time management and prioritization skills; remaining calm under pressure; flexibility regarding setting (and re-setting) priorities and managing multiple projects; exceptional communication, organizational and diplomacy skills with strong written communication skills; a sense of humor, high ethical and professional standards, and a multi-cultural perspective; working well in team environment; a flexible schedule, including availability to work occasional evenings and weekends, and to travel periodically; and dedication to working closely and cooperatively in a community-based organization with diverse staff, volunteers, and community members.

If interested, please submit a cover letter and resume to No phone calls or faxes please.

ASA is an equal opportunity employer. People of color and women are strongly encouraged to apply.

Medical Marijuana: Mid-Atlantic Movement as Delaware, New Jersey Bills Win Committee Votes

Medical marijuana is on the move in the Mid-Atlantic region, as bills to legalize its use passed committee votes in Delaware Wednesday and New Jersey Thursday. The New Jersey bill is well-advanced, having already passed the state Senate, while in Delaware, Wednesday's vote was the first test of legislative sentiment.

In New Jersey, the Assembly Health Committee passed the bill, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, on a 7-1 vote, but only after making it dramatically different from and more restrictive than the version passed by the Senate. At the behest of committee chair Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), who was responding to criticism that the bill's distribution and oversight provisions weren't tight enough, the bill was amended so that only "alternative treatment centers" could grow, process, and distribute medical marijuana.

In the version passed by the Senate, patients could also grow their own or have caretakers grow it for them. In this latest version, there is no role for caretakers, because it also provides that only patients may pick up medical marijuana at a dispensary, or have a courier deliver it to them.

"This bill will be the most restrictive in the nation,'' said Sen. Joseph Scutari (D-Union), the bill's original sponsor. The bill may be too restrictive, he added.

The bill now heads for a floor vote in the Assembly. It also must go back to the Senate, which must approve the amended version.

One day earlier and one state to the south, the Delaware Senate Health and Social Services Committee approved Senate Bill 94, the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act, authored by Sen. Margaret Rose Henry (D-Wilmington East), the committee chair.

That bill would allow people with serious diseases to use medical marijuana with their physician's approval. The bill sets up an ID card system and a dispensary network. Patients could also grow and possess their own medicine, up to 12 plants and six ounces.

Does Smoked Marijuana Have Medical Value?

Yes, lots. Caren Woodson at Americans For Safe Access takes a look at the research.

If Pawlenty Wants to Be President, He Should Reconsider His Opposition to Medical Marijuana

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has declined to seek a 3rd term, prompting speculation that he's planning to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Wouldn't it be strange if Pawlenty's presidential ambitions had something to do with his decision to veto a bill that would stop police from arresting terminally ill medical marijuana patients? Does Pawlenty think that Americans want a president who supports arresting people who are about to die?

Someone should show him the polling data on medical marijuana. Is Pawlenty aware that an anti-medical marijuana candidate got crushed by a pro-medical marijuana candidate in the 2008 presidential election?

Opposing medical marijuana in any way is politically risky, but Pawlenty specifically turned his back on people who are dying. In today's political climate, that's a big mistake.

Press Release: After Making History in Senate, Medical Marijuana Bill Poised for House Floor Vote Later This Year

JUNE 1, 2009   

After Making History in Senate, Medical Marijuana Bill Poised for House Floor Vote Later This Year

CONTACT: Bruce Mirken, MPP director of communications ............... 415-585-6404 or 202-215-4205

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS -- Although the clock ran out before it could be acted on by the Illinois House of Representatives this weekend, medical marijuana legislation is now well positioned for a House floor vote, possibly before the end of the year, advocates said today.

     Within 48 hours of passing the Senate 30-28, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act had already soared through the House Human Services Committee and was ready for its final reading and vote on the House floor. Tax legislation, however, occupied all of the House's time in the session's final hours.

     "This bill gained more and more momentum at every stage of the legislative process, and I think the pace at which it moved is testament to the support it enjoys," said Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), deputy majority leader and chief House sponsor of SB 1381. "Although today's top priority was the tax bill, I think the time has come for Illinois to enact a medical marijuana law. We just need to shore up a few votes before calling this bill to the floor."

     The measure could be brought to the House floor for a vote during the November veto session or when the General Assembly reconvenes in January 2010 for the second half of the current session.

     "Of course I'm disappointed," said Jamie Clayton of Grafton, an AIDS patient who participated in a groundbreaking FDA-approved study proving medical marijuana's efficacy in treating pain caused by nerve damage. "But the fact remains that we made it further than ever before. Hundreds of patients like myself came forward this year to plead with our legislators to enact this law, and we will not give up, ever. As someone who volunteered for a clinical study that proved the benefits of medical marijuana, I've felt the relief it can provide first-hand and learned how it can allow me to cut back on some of the prescription narcotics I have to take. A lot of people need this law, and we're not going away."

     With more than 27,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit


United States

Video: Orange County Seniors Demand Medical Marijuana Access

This video by "Drug Crazy" author Mike Gray is from Orange County, California -- not a liberal bastion, but medical marijuana has been state law there for over 12 years. Senior citizens are calling for access to medical marijuana, local authorities are sympathetic, and advocates are willing help. But they can't find a landlord willing to rent to them, presumably because of threats by the US DEA to use asset forfeiture laws to take the property away. Along with the sheer barbarism of these federal policies, the video also hints at what may be the largest tragedy, people who because of those policies never find out that marijuana could have helped them.
United States

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