Americans for Safe Access

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California: San Diego Allows Recreational Pot Sales In Medical Shops

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

The San Diego City Council met on Tuesday to consider proposed regulation changes in marijuana business practices in the city. One of the main issues discussed was the possibility of allowing recreational pot sales in medical marijuana dispensaries.

Terrie Best, Chapter Chair of Americans for Safe Access in San Diego, told The Weed Blog that “council voted to grandfather in (and write land use law within 9 months) business tax certification holders in the areas of manufacturing, cultivation and testing. Deliveries will now need to be connected to a Medical Marijuana Card Clinic (MMCC) conditional use permit only, no stand-alones. We also may have lost events where products are used and consumed.”

She added, “Our outdoor Proposition 64 six plant personal right must be exercised under a green house, and all MMCC’s will be allowed to sell to adults 21 and over along with their patient clients.”

Best applauded the city council, saying “Not too bad for a town FULL of loud prohibitionists. I am upset about the delivery loss and event ban though. But, I don’t think it will stop us.”

U.S.: American Chemical Society Creates Cannabis Chemistry Subdivision

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The Cannabis Chemistry Committee and the Division of Chemical Health and Safety (CHAS) of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on Tuesday announced the creation of the Cannabis Chemistry Subdivision (CANN) within CHAS.

"The Division and CANN are excited about this new relationship and are looking forward to expanded collaboration and education efforts," said spokesman Ezra Pryor. "Growing faster than ever, CANN is eager to offer membership and showcase the benefits of getting involved."

According to Pryor, member benefits are numerous and growing, from a free subscription to the peer-reviewed Journal of Chemical Health and Safety to receiving discounted membership and services with other organizations.

"Having relationships with organizations like Americans for Safe Access, The International Association of Cannabinoids as Medicine, American Oil Chemistry Society, Association of Official Agricultural Chemists, and several others, our members can receive exclusive access to content, events, and a network of leading professionals in the cannabis industry," Pryor said.

"Members of CANN are always preparing for the next opportunity to engage and educate others," Pryor said. "By joining CANN and getting involved, you have a say in what kind of cannabis programming is presented at ACS meetings."

Maryland: Industry Training For Medical Cannabis Applicants Set For Oct. 12

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Leading Cannabis Consumer Safety and Regulatory Compliance Experts Offer Networking and Education Opportunity

The Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program on October 12 will host a Maryland application preparation event for applicants seeking licenses to operate medical cannabis cultivation, processing or dispensary locations in Maryland. This event will consist of a networking reception followed by an educational workshop with industry experts on Maryland’s application process and best practices to meet regulatory requirements.

The Maryland Cannabis Commission began accepting applications on September 28. The commission will issue 15 licenses for cultivation, up to 92 for dispensaries, and an unlimited number for processors.

Maryland has adopted the American Herbal Product Association's (AHPA) Recommendations for Regulators, which require businesses to meet staff training requirements, and robust product safety protocols; undergo rigorous on-site compliance audits; implement lot and batch tracking; and adhere to all local and state regulatory requirements.

“PFC is hosting this event to prepare Maryland’s cannabis industry to meet regulatory requirements and strengthen the commitment of industry professionals to provide quality care and safe medicine to patients,” said PFC Director Kristin Nevedal.

Washington: All 3 Defendants In Kettle Falls Medical Marijuana Case Get Federal Prison

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Patient Advocates Call On President Obama to Pardon All Defendants and Fully End Federal Prosecution of Medical Cannabis Patients

Kettle Falls medical marijuana defendants Rhonda Firestack-Harvey and Michelle Gregg on Friday were sentenced to one year and a day in connection to federal cannabis cultivation charges. Fellow defendant Rolland Gregg received a sentence of 33 months. All three were released pending appeal.

In March the trio was acquitted of all crimes they were initially charged with, except for the “lesser included” charge of cannabis cultivation. The defendants were arrested in August of 2012 after the Drug Enforcement Agency seized cannabis plants on their property, which had been grown for medical purposes.

They were barred from raising a medical necessity defense, despite Washington State law allowing for the cultivation of medical cannabis.

“Jail time for the Kettle Falls defendants is an embarrassment to the judicial system,” said Americans for Safe Access (ASA) Executive Director Steph Sherer. “We’re calling on President Obama to pardon all three defendants immediately.”

Following the DEA raid charges were brought against Rhonda Firestack-Harvey, Rolland Gregg and Michelle Gregg as well as Larry Harvey and Jason Zucker. Charges were dropped against Larry Harvey who had been diagnosed with Stage IV terminal pancreatic cancer, but only a matter of days before the case went to trial, several months after his cancer diagnosis.

Maryland: Dr. Sue Sisley Lectures At Walter Reed National Hospital On PTSD, Cannabis

SueSisley[MattYork-AP]

Dr. Sue Sisley on Tuesday will lead a clinical lecture on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and cannabis as part of the 5th Annual Pain Care Skills Training at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Research has indicated that cannabis has tremendous therapeutic potential to treat PTSD and pain-related symptoms of many medical conditions. The Pain Care Skills Training is a four-day event that includes hands-on trainings, lectures and roundtable discussions on best-practice models of treatment, and evolving solutions to meet the needs of pain care within the military, hosted by the National Capital Region Pain Initiative.

"The military has historically been a leader in adopting new medical practices far ahead of the larger medical community," said Dr. Sisley. "It's an honor to be able to help educate these highly dedicated medical professionals about medical cannabis and PTSD."

Earlier this year, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Veterans Equal Access Amendment by a margin of 18-12, which would allow Veterans Administration (VA) doctors to recommend medical cannabis if they are in a state that has a medical cannabis program. Under current policy, veterans who receive treatment from a physician outside of the VA are able to access medical cannabis if they live in state with a medical cannabis program.

California: Legislature Passes Medical Marijuana Regulations; Governor Expected To Sign

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The California Legislature on Friday passed a series of bills that would establish comprehensive regulation and licensing of medical cannabis, in a multi-tiered licensing system being praised by some organizations, while other activists are calling the proposed rules "convoluted" and even "treacherous."

Assembly Bills 243 and 266 as well as Senate Bill 643 were all approved and will delegate regulation of commercial medical cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, and distribution to various state agencies as well as create a state-level licensing system for the first time in the history of the state’s medical cannabis program. Governor Jerry Brown is widely expected to sign all three pieces of legislation.

"I am pleased that the California legislature has taken an important step by passing a comprehensive regulatory framework to improve patient care, provide greater certainty for the industry and protect our environment," said Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland). "In Congress, I intend to continue working toward federal government policies that respect state marijuana laws.

"The federal government should not come between patients and their medicine," Rep. Lee said. "That is why I have introduced the States Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act (H.R. 262) and am a proud cosponsor of other legislation including the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act (H.R. 1013), Respect State Marijuana Laws Act (H.R. 1940) and the Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act (H.R. 2076)."

Maryland: ASA To Provide Training For Medical Marijuana Compliance Inspectors

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Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Wednesday announced it has been selected to provide training for compliance inspectors operating under the authority of the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

The auditors are charged with ensuring members of the state’s new medical cannabis industry comply with all applicable regulations, which were finalized by the Commission in August.

In addition to developing its own rigorous compliance protocols, Maryland has adopted the American Herbal Product Association’s (AHPA) Recommendations to Regulators in the areas of cultivation, distribution and manufacturing. AHPA’s guidelines offer seed-to-consumption product safety and quality control measures that will ensure rigid oversight of the state’s medical cannabis industry.

Auditor training will be offered through the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program, a project of ASA with extensive experience training members of the cannabis industry to meet strict regulatory compliance guidelines. PFC has trained thousands of employees of the medical cannabis industry and is currently under contract with the District of Columbia to train all medical cannabis staff to achieve comprehensive regulatory compliance.

U.S.: ASA Makes Statement on DOJ Memo Regarding Medical Cannabis Amendment

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Press reports on Wednesday revealed a February 2015 memorandum from the United States Department of Justice on the Rohrabacher-Farr Medical Cannabis Amendment’s impact on federal law enforcement actions related to the Controlled Substances Act. The memorandum argues that federal prosecutions against private citizens participating in state-level medical cannabis programs would not be impacted by the amendment.

"The February 27, 2015 DOJ memo shows that they were providing either deliberately misleading statements or, at the very least, contradictory and confusing messages in their talking points in opposition to the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that was offered to protect citizen access and participation in state-level medical cannabis programs," said Mike Liszewski, Government Affairs director with Americans for Safe Access (ASA). "The language of the amendment and numerous statements clarifying the intent of the bill's sponsors make it clear that DOJ is barred from interfering with conduct that is legal under a given state's medical marijuana law.

"DOJ's analysis of the term 'implementation' is flawed in its conclusions," Liszewski said "The Department does not directly define the term in the memo, and notably, implementation is not explicitly defined in the U.S. Code, federal case law, or even Black’s Law Dictionary.

U.S.: Advocacy Group Launches 'The Truth About Marijuana' Educational Series

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New Campaign Aims to Deepen Public Knowledge about Medical Marijuana

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Wednesday launched "The Truth About Medical Marijuana" educational website and accompanying event series. The Truth About Medical Marijuana will focus on emerging issues in the area of medical marijuana, including understanding the research behind the medicine, emerging policies issues surrounding cannabidiol (CBD) and consumer safety issues.

During each of the next three months, event hosts will focus on these issues and prepare attendees to share that information with politicians and key decision makers, as well as providing tools to counter misinformation in the media.

“With the majority of Americans living in states that allow at least some kind of medical marijuana it’s time to move beyond rhetoric and headlines and foster a genuine understanding of this too often misunderstood medicine,” said Steph Sherer, ASA executive director. “With the Truth About Medical Marijuana, we’re filling a void by giving people straightforward explanations of the science behind medical marijuana and explaining how medical marijuana relates to them and their families.”

Medical marijuana policy has recently undergone a significant series of developments with the passage of several new state laws in a short period of time. In total, 40 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the District of Columbia allow some legal medical use of marijuana.

U.S.: Congressional Briefing Highlights Federal Barriers To Medical Marijuana Research

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Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday hosted a Congressional Briefing with Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on federal barriers faced by researchers working to understand the medical uses of marijuana.

The briefing provided expert insights on how federal policy has undermined medical marijuana research and the state of contemporary medical marijuana research from Dr. Sue Sisley and Dr. David Casarett. Brooking Institute Fellow John Hudak discussed the practical impact of reform proposals.

“ASA put together this briefing so Congress could hear, directly from top researchers, how to make increased medical marijuana research a reality,” said Steph Sherer, ASA executive director. “These experts can tell us firsthand how the federal government’s policies undermine research and how reforms like the CARERS Act can move this essential medical research forward.”

Dr. Sisley will present insights on how federal barriers have directly blocked her research on using marijuana to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, including the adverse impacts of the Drug Enforcement Agency licensing only one entity (National Institute on Drug Abuse) to grow the federal research supply of marijuana. Dr. Casarett, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and author of the recently published book, Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana, will discuss contemporary medical marijuana research.

U.S.: Congressional Briefing To Highlight Need To Fix Marijuana Research System

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Top Experts to Testify on Federal Restrictions Holding Back Medical Marijuana Research

Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is hosting a Congressional Briefing on Thursday, July 23, with Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on federal barriers faced by researchers working to understand the medical uses of marijuana. The briefing will provide expert testimony on how federal policy has undermined medical marijuana research, the state of contemporary medical marijuana research and the impact of reform proposals.

Dr. Sue Sisley will present testimony on how federal barriers have directly blocked her research on using marijuana to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) including the adverse impacts of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) licensing only one entity (National Institute on Drug Abuse) to grow the federal research supply of marijuana.

Dr. David Casarett, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and author of the recently published book, Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana will discuss contemporary medical marijuana research.

The final speaker will be John Hudak, fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute and Managing Editor of the FixGov blog. Hudack will be discussing the often misunderstood impact of moving marijuana to a different schedule classification under the Controlled Substances Act.

California: Governor Signs Bill Ending Transplant Discrimination Against Marijuana Patients

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California Governor Jerry Brown on Monday signed AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act. AB 258 prohibits discrimination against medical marijuana patients in the organ transplant process, unless a doctor has determined that medicinal cannabis use is clinically significant to the transplant process.

Medical cannabis patients in California have been routinely removed from the organ transplant waiting list if they test positive for cannabis use – even legal doctor-recommended medical marijuana. AB 258 was authored by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

“AB 258’s passage is the result of ASA’s membership tirelessly working for over two years,” said Don Duncan, ASA’s California director. “In California, legal medical cannabis patients will never again face a choice between their doctor-recommended medicine and a life-saving organ transplant.

"Governor Brown deserves credit for protecting medical cannabis patients from this harmful discriminatory practice that has no basis in medical research,” Duncan said.

On June 15, more than 200 patients and advocates participated in the ASA California Citizen Lobby Day, which focused on educating lawmakers about AB 258 and other medical cannabis legislation. During the lobby day ASA began a postcard campaign to encourage Governor Brown to support AB 258.

U.S.: Senate Panel Votes To Prevent DEA Interference In State Medical Marijuana Laws

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

In yet another huge victory for marijuana reform, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved an amendment to prevent the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. The vote was 20 - 10.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) to the Senate version of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, prohibits the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state laws that allow the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

It mirrors the amendment sponsored by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) that was approved 242-186 last week in the House of Representatives. Passage of identical amendments in the House and Senate typically indicates it will be included in the final spending bill Congress sends to President Obama.

The House also approved amendments to protect state industrial hemp laws and to reduce the DEA’s budget by shifting money away from marijuana eradication and toward better uses.

"We very narrowly lost a vote that would have stopped DoJ from interfering with all state marijuana laws, not just those that are limited to medical marijuana," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.

California: Record-Breaking 13 Bills In Legislature Dealing With Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A record-breaking 13 bills are in the California Legislature this year dealing with marijuana, and most of them deal specifically with medicinal cannabis. Some of the bills would be quite damaging, including legislation that would criminalize some types of cultivation and concentrate manufacturing.

The bill with the most far-reaching consequences is AB 266, according to activist Lanny Swerdlow of the BlogTalkRadio.com show "Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense." According to Swerdlow, this bill is an attempt to put some state controls on California's patchwork of local regulations.

The bill would create a new Governor's Office of MMJ Regulation to oversee and coordinate three new MMJ regulatory divisions:
1) The Department of Food and Agriculture for cultivation;
2) Public Health for product safety and labeling; and
3) The Board of Equalization for licensing.

The major action, according to Swerdlow, would be by the Board of Equalization acting in coordination with other state agencies to write and enforce regulations for commercial medical marijuana distribution, and to issue provisional licenses for medicinal cannabis organizations, contingent on local licensing approval.

AB 266 also would prioritize enforcement against doctors accused of writing inappropriate medical marijuana recommendations, would create an apprenticeship program for the medicinal cannabis industry, would authorize additional local taxation, and more.

California: Assembly Passes AB 266; ASA Calls It 'Step Forward For Medical Cannabis Patients'

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Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday announced support for AB 266, which would create a "regulatory structure" for California’s landmark medical cannabis program. Earlier on Thursday AB 266 passed the California Assembly by a margin of 60-8-12.

Last week AB 266 was merged with AB 34 and Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) was made lead author of the bill. AB 266 is co-authored by Assemblymembers Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) and Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles).

In addition to supporting AB 266 in its present form, ASA announced it will be working with the General Assembly, California State Senate, patients, and providers to find ways to further improve the bill to optimize the ultimate program that would be created.

“AB 266 works to fix a system that has been broken for almost two decades,” said Assemblymember Bonta, buying into the popular narrative that free market distribution of medicinal cannabis is somehow unacceptable. "California was the first state in the nation to approve medical cannabis with the passage of Prop 215 in 1996, but since then we as a state have stagnated, and it is time that the Legislature takes definitive action on this important issue.

"As Chair of the Assembly Health Committee I feel it is imperative that we create a viable framework for medical cannabis that preserves our core priorities and provides strong patient protections and access to their medicine,” Bonta said.

New York: One World Cannabis Implements Regulatory Services For Medical Marijuana Program

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Training and Education Infrastructure to Provide "Turnkey Service" to Yield New York Medical Cannabis Patient Communities

OWC Pharmaceutical Research Corp., an Israel-based developer of cannabinoid-based therapies targeting a variety of different indications, on Monday announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, One World Cannabis Ltd., is implementing regulation and patient-care consultancy services in New York to further advance the application and registration of medical cannabis business licenses within the existing medical cannabis program.

"Our intention is to provide support to local New York businesses which intend to dispense and manufacture medical cannabis and help shepherd certifications through the Medical Cannabis Program," said Dr. Yehuda Baruch, One World Cannabis director of research and regulatory affairs and international authority on medical cannabis programs.

In addition to helping guide certified New York-based medical cannabis businesses through the regulatory framework and operating infrastructure, One World Cannabis said it is helping to institute the creation of a medical cannabis patients' center, consisting of patient communities. The company said it is also offering training and educational modules for patients -- as well as physicians, caregivers and researchers -- to enhance the understanding of patient-focused medical cannabis programs within existing and developing U.S. markets.

U.S.: Medical Cannabis Advocates Call For New Direction At DEA After Leonhart Resignation

MicheleLeonhart[HuffingtonPost]

New DEA Leadership Clears Way For Rescheduling and Other Needed Reforms

Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday announced that Michele Leonhart, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), is resigning. Leonhart has been criticized by medical cannabis advocates as well as members of Congress for her unwillingness to adhere to the Obama Administration's stated policies on medical cannabis.

Under Leonhart, the DEA led increased raids against medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivators in defiance of guidance from the Department of Justice steering them away from cases that targeted state-legal medical cannabis patients.

The legacy of Leonhart includes opposing sentencing guidelines reforms embraced by the Obama Administration and other law enforcement agencies, working to maintain cannabis’ Schedule I status, and claiming that rising Drug War violence in Mexico was a sign of success.

During a notable Congressional oversight hearing in 2012, Leonhart refused to state if she thought crack or heroin were more dangerous than cannabis. When President Obama stated in a 2014 New York Times interview that he felt cannabis was no more dangerous than alcohol, Leonhart defiantly spoke out against the President.

U.S.: Americans for Safe Access To Host Advocate Discussion of CNN's Weed 3

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Sunday night continued his groundbreaking reporting on medical marijuana with "Weed 3," which continued to introduce Americans to new stories of patients benefiting from medical marijuana and document the challenges that continue to slow down progress in this critical area.

"Weed 3" included important moments like President Obama signaling his support for medical marijuana and documenting the political commitment of Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rand Paul (R-KY) to reform federal policy on medical marijuana with the CARERS Act. Patient profiles like that of U.S. veteran Sean Kiernan, who uses medical marijuana to treat PTSD symptoms again showed Americans that medical marijuana can have tremendous benefits in the lives of suffering patients.

“CNN’s 'Weed 3' showed how patient advocates are fighting for and winning the right to safe access to medical marijuana for themselves as well as researchers,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access. “Political leaders like President Obama, Senators Booker, Gillibrand and Paul are supporting medical marijuana reform because they understand the huge difference it can make in patient’s lives.”

"Weed 3" also highlighted the important veterans PTSD study that researchers Rick Doblin and Dr. Sue Sisley are moving forward with despite significant political obstacles that have delayed and threatened to prevent the study from being conducted.

U.S.: ASA To Host Advocate Discussion of CNN's Weed 3

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What’s Next for the Medical Marijuana Revolution?

Over the last two years Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s reporting has been truly groundbreaking in mainstreaming the benefits of medical marijuana. Dr. Gupta has brought stories of everyday Americans that obtain essential benefits from medical marijuana products into the living rooms of millions of Americans.

“Watching CNN’s 'Weed' was the first time many Americans saw everyday people benefiting from medical marijuana,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “Seeing how much good medical marijuana can do has lead to an outgrowth in activism that has helped create new laws at the state level and is laying the foundation for important federal legislation.”

On April 19, CNN will premiere the third installment of their documentary series on medical marijuana Weed 3, documenting the ongoing developments in what Dr. Gupta has declared a “medical marijuana revolution.” The following day -- on April 20, at 7 pm EST-- ASA will host a Google Hangout to discuss the documentary and the issues it examines.

What: Google Hangout on the medical marijuana revolution and issues raised in Sanjay Gupta's Weed 3.
Featuring: ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer, PA State Senator Mike Folmer (invited), Jahan Marcu Ph.D, Matt Kahl, U.S. combat veteran and activist with Grow for Vets and Weed 3 participant Dr. Sue Sisley.

Illinois: Medical Cannabis Physicians' Summit Aims To Educate Medical Community

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The Canna Law Group, in partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, Americans for Safe Access, and the Marijuana Policy Project, is co-hosting the Illinois Medical Cannabis Physicians’ Summit on Friday, June 5, 2015 at the Westin Chicago River North.

The summit will educate licensed medical professionals on current medical cannabis research, state and federal law, and the Illinois Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. “Educating the medical community about medical cannabis treatment options is essential for the long-term success of the program,” said Rep. Lou Lang, prime sponsor of the current medical cannabis law.

The event will feature as its keynote speaker leading cannabis researcher Dr. Donald Abrams, who has conducted multiple FDA-approved studies on the medical benefits of cannabis. Dr. Suzanne Sisley, another clinical researcher on cannabis who studies its benefits for PTSD sufferers, will also speak at the summit.

“Many doctors need to better understand the current research behind medical cannabis,” said Dr. Abrams. “This is a chance to share my own first-hand research experiences at the University of California San Francisco and educate Illinois doctors about how I've applied those experiences in a clinical setting.”

Also speaking is Dr. Leslie Mendoza-Temple, chair of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, who said “This will be an important event for any medical professional who wants to understand the research, law, and administrative processes of a program that will help thousands of patients in Illinois.”

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