In the Trenches
For Immediate Release: May 25, 2011
Patient Advocates Back Three Medical Marijuana Bills Introduced Today in Congress
Advocacy Group Unveils New Program to Build More Skilled, Responsive Grassroots Force
Washington, DC -- Three medical marijuana bills were introduced today in Congress with support from patient advocates. The most significant of the three bills is one introduced by Congressman Frank (D-MA), which reclassifies marijuana from its current status as a dangerous drug with no medical value. Another bill, introduced by Congressman Polis (D-CO), will allow banks and other financial institutions to provide services to medical marijuana businesses without being subject to "suspicious activity" reporting requirements. The third bill, introduced by Congressman Stark (D-CA), changes the federal tax code "to allow a deduction for expenses in connection with the trade or business of selling marijuana intended for patients for medical purposes pursuant to State law."
"All of these bills will have a positive effect on hundreds of thousands of Americans and only a negligible impact to the rest of the country," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "This kind of policy shift is a no-brainer and should garner the bipartisan support of Congress."
To shore up support for these and other local and state medical marijuana bills, ASA is launching a new advocacy program.
The introduction of Congressional legislation today comes as ASA is equipping patient advocates with new tools to lobby local, state and federal governments. ASA unveiled a new program today that establishes a "Medical Cannabis Think Tank "to provide activists the support they need to analyze pending or proposed legislation and to lobby for the best laws possible. To support the lobbying effort, ASA also unveiled its new "Online Training Center," with more than 4 hours of educational streaming video and over 400 pages of instruction manuals and worksheets. ASA's program also includes an improved "Raid Response Center" to better prepare for aggressive federal interference.
As part of its "Sick and Tired" campaign, ASA and others filed a writ Monday in the DC Circuit to compel the federal government to answer a 9-year-old petition to reclassify cannabis. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) argued in the writ that the government has unreasonably delayed an answer to the petition in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. "The Drug Enforcement Administration has the opportunity right now to address the needs of patients across the country by reclassifying cannabis," continued Sherer. "However, since Congress can also reclassify cannabis, we are urging passage of the Frank bill in order to take advantage of all points of leverage."
If passed, the Frank bill would not only recognize marijuana's medical value, but also provide a medical necessity defense in federal court, a right not currently afforded to patients and caregivers who are in compliance with their local and state laws. The Frank bill would also usher forth greater research into the therapeutic properties of cannabis and create incentives for the development of new cannabis-based medication.
Advocates hope the Polis bill, if passed, will end the current ban on services for medical marijuana businesses by institutions like Wells Fargo, CitiCorp and Bank of America. The Stark bill has the potential to end dozens of audits by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) currently taking place, and settle once and for all whether the IRS can demand tax on gross or just net proceeds.
Rescheduling bill (Frank):
Banking bill (Polis):
IRS bill (Stark):
ASA Think Tank: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/section.php?id=384
ASA Online Training Center:
ASA Raid Response Center:
Today's my birthday!
To celebrate, I want to do something really special, and I'm going to need your help. What I want is to see marijuana legal in my lifetime.
I know what you're thinking. "Tommy, after 74 years of marijuana being illegal and 100,000s of marijuana arrests every year, how could we possibly forget your birthday?" I know, right? You can make it up to me by helping turn my dream into a reality.
If you make a $25 donation in my honor to the Marijuana Policy Project, they can start work on numerous medical marijuana ballot initiatives this year. Namely in Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri, and North Dakota.
And if you're feeling really bad about forgetting my birthday, you could sign up to make a monthly credit card donation to support MPP’s plan to legalize medical marijuana in 27 states by 2014. It's the gift that keeps on giving!
These ballots aren't going to initiate themselves! Please help make my birthday wish come true and support the work of the Marijuana Policy Project. Thanks, man.
PS: I’m proud to announce that I’m joining MPP’s VIP advisory board. I spent nine months in federal prison because of the government’s ‘war on drugs’. We need to change marijuana laws and MPP is doing just that.
Help us meet our mission
Raised in 2011:$869,697
Goal in 2011: $2,850,000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 5/25/2011
CONTACT: Ken Wolski at 609-394-2137 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Chris Goldstein at 267-702-3731
New Jersey Attorney General Meets With Medical Marijuana Advocates
[Trenton - New Jersey] Attorney General Paula Dow sat down with the Coalition for Medical Marijuana NJ (CMMNJ) on May 24th at her office in Trenton. The AG and her staff held the meeting to hear concerns from local advocates about the compassionate use marijuana program that has now been suspended by Governor Christie.
Ken Wolski RN, the executive director of CMMNJ, was grateful for the interaction.
“Attorney General Paula Dow and First Assistant Phillip Kwon took time out their demanding schedules to listen to some very serious issues for New Jersey's medical marijuana law," said Wolski, "Qualifying patients continue to wait for this program and we hope that some of their concerns were heard. The Office of the Attorney General plays a key role in the implementation and administration of the compassionate use law.”
On April 22, 2011 Dow sent a letter to the Department of Justice in Washington DC requesting clarification about the medical marijuana law. Several US Attorneys have recently issued letters in other states with a clear description of how federal authorities will prosecute medical marijuana facilities, even if they are permitted under state law. In Washington, Montana and other states the letters were accompanied by DEA raids of local medical cannabis dispensaries.
NJ Attorney General Paula Dow stated in the meeting that she sent a follow-up letter to the US Department of Justice, addressed to US Attorney General Eric Holder, on May 23, 2011.
Paul Fishman, the US Attorney for New Jersey, has not sent any communication regarding the NJ medical marijuana law before or after Dow’s requests. A spokesperson at the US DOJ said the April 22nd letter from New Jersey had been received and was under review.
Chris Goldstein, the media coordinator at CMMNJ also attended the meeting.
“Not a single person in New Jersey has been able to register for medical cannabis, despite many promises from Governor Christie,” said Goldstein, “But I think that we had a meaningful exchange of new ideas with Attorney General Dow. The intent of The Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act is to grant legal access to seriously ill residents. There are some methods that the AG's office can explore to actively protect New Jersey’s medical cannabis patients today."
New Jersey passed the first compassionate use law in the country that forces patients into a centralized system of just six Alternative Treatment Centers to access all of their state-legal cannabis. There are no provisions in the NJ law to allow patients or caregivers to cultivate cannabis on their own. The law was supposed to have been fully implemented in the summer of 2010 but has suffered numerous delays.
CMMNJ’s Ken Wolski is looking forward to meeting with the one state official who has exercised the most influence over the medical marijuana law: Governor Chris Christie.
“It is long past time for Governor Christie to actually meet with patients and advocates in our state to discuss the compassionate use law.”
This alert sent from Sensible Colorado Action c(4)
2012: An Update on Legalization
As you might have read or heard, a broad coalition of organizations that includes Sensible Colorado has submitted language for a 2012 statewide legalization initiative in Colorado.
We went through an exceptionally exhaustive five-plus-month process to produce the filed initiative language, which we believe is incredibly strong and presents the best route to ending marijuana prohibition here in Colorado. We coordinated with dozens of organizations, attorneys, activists, patients, marijuana business owners, and other stakeholders, both in Colorado and around the country. We also solicited comments from the public via our organizations' lists of thousands of Colorado reform supporters, magazine ads, and events around the state.
We are still engaged in the process of fine-tuning the initiative, so please do not hesitate to reply to this e-mail if you have any specific concerns or questions, which we will take into strong consideration and address as quickly as possible.
As you can imagine, it is incredibly difficult if not impossible to produce initiative language on which everyone will agree entirely. But it remains our sincere hope that supporters of reform across Colorado will feel comfortable with the final product, become part of this growing coalition, and work together toward our shared goal of ending marijuana prohibition.
Please reply to this e-mail or give us a call to participate in this process. 720 890 4247
Sensible Colorado | PO Box 18768 | Denver CO 80218
For Immediate Release: May 23, 2011
Medical Marijuana Advocates Sue Federal Government Over Rescheduling Delay/Writ filed today in DC Circuit Court for unreasonable delay in answering 9-year-old petition
*Washington, DC* -- A Coalition of advocacy groups and patients filed suit in the DC Circuit Court today to compel the Obama administration to answer a 9-year-old petition to reclassify medical marijuana. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) has never received an answer to its 2002 petition, despite a formal recommendation in 2006 from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the final arbiter in the rescheduling process. As recently as July 2010, the DEA issued a 54-page "Position on Marijuana," but failed to even mention the pending CRC petition. Plaintiffs in the case include the CRC, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Patients Out of Time, as well as individually named patients, one of whom is listed on the CRC petition but died in 2005.
"The federal government's strategy has been delay, delay, delay," said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel of ASA and lead counsel on the writ. "It is far past time for the government to answer our rescheduling petition, but unfortunately we've been forced to go to court in order to get resolution." The writ of mandamus filed today accuses the government of unreasonable delay in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. A previous cannabis (marijuana) rescheduling petition filed in 1972 went unanswered for 22 years before being denied.
The writ argues that cannabis is not a dangerous drug and that ample evidence of its therapeutic value exists based on scientific studies in the US and around the world. "Despite numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies establishing that marijuana is effective" in treating numerous medical conditions, the government "continues to deprive seriously ill persons of this needed, and often life-saving therapy by maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I substance." The writ calls out the government for unlawfully failing to answer the petition despite an Inter-Agency Advisory issued by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 and "almost five years after receiving a 41-page memorandum from HHS stating its scientific evaluation and recommendations."
The two largest physician groups in the country -- the American Medical Association <http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/AMA_Report.pdf> and the American College of Physicians <http://www.acponline.org/advocacy/where_we_stand/other_issues/medmarijuana.pdf> -- have both called on the federal government to review marijuana's status as a Schedule I substance with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The National Cancer Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, added cannabis to its website earlier this year as a Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) and recognized that, "/Cannabis/ has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years prior to its current status as an illegal substance."
Medical marijuana has now been decriminalized in 16 states and the District of Columbia, and has an 80% approval rating among Americans according to several polls. In a 1988 ruling on a prior rescheduling petition, the DEA's own Administrative Law Judge Francis Young recommended in favor of reclassification stating that, "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."
A formal rejection of the CRC petition would enable the group to challenge in court the government's assertion that marijuana has no medical value. "Adhering to outdated public policy that ignores science has created a war zone for doctors and their patients who are seeking use cannabis therapeutics," said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA and a plaintiff in the writ. Jon Gettman, who filed the rescheduling petition on behalf of the CRC added that, "The Obama Administration's refusal to act on this petition is an irresponsible stalling tactic."
A synthetic form of THC, the main chemical ingredient in the cannabis plant, is currently classified Schedule III for its use in a prescribed pill trademarked as Marinol®. The pill goes off-patent this year and companies vying to sell generic versions are petitioning the government to also reclassify the more economical, naturally-derived THC (from the plant) to Schedule III. The rescheduling process involves federal agencies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse, HHS, and DEA. On average, it takes 6 months from HHS review to final action, whereas it's been nearly 5 years since HHS issued its recommendation on the CRC petition, more than twice as long as any other rescheduling petition reviewed since 2002.
Writ filed today: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/CRC_Writ.pdf
ASA backgrounder on rescheduling:
CRC rescheduling petition:
2006 HHS recommendation:
2010 DEA Position on Marijuana:
Chances are, your friends and family support medical marijuana. But they probably don't know that medical marijuana programs and patients around the country are under attack by the federal government right now.
We're counting on you to let them know about the attacks and tell them how to help stop them. Thanks to supporters like you, the Attorney General has already received 13,803 messages. Help us double that number by forwarding the message below.
Drug Policy Alliance
--------FORWARD THE MESSAGE BELOW--------
Did you know that medical marijuana programs across the country are under threat? Even though the Obama administration promised to leave medical marijuana alone, in the past few months the federal government has been threatening state officials, warning them that they still have the power to arrest and prosecute people who are legally licensed to grow and sell medical marijuana.
This is just crazy, because the laws haven't changed! Really, just a few lawyers in the federal government have been sending these letters to states where medical marijuana programs are just getting off the ground, in an effort to stop them. This scare tactic already worked in Washington State, and we can't let it happen anywhere else.
To put an end to this intimidation, we don't need any laws changed – we just need the Attorney General to tell the people sending the threats to stop. Click here, and join me in asking Attorney General Holder to keep the Obama administration's promise to leave medical marijuana alone!
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.