ASA

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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.

California: Marijuana Legalization Supporters Split Up, Threaten Separate Initiatives

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

With legalization seemingly a near-certainty coming down the pike in California, there's a lot of excitement in the air. And the smell of money has joined the aroma of cannabis, stoking the excitement to a fever pitch. But there's a fly in that medicated ointment.

Inspired by successes in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, activists are hungrily eyeing California, the biggest prize of all in the recreational legalization sweepstakes, reports Dennis Romero at the L.A. Weekly.

Legalization fell short in the Golden State in 2010 with Proposition 19, and that sad outcome could see a repeat if multiple initiatives compete against each other to qualify, and if two or more reach the ballot and face off against each other.

What was supposed to be the unifying initiative -- ReformCA, from the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform -- was the intended vehicle for all the big players in California cannabis politics to support; they almost pulled it off, too.

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)."

California: Legislature Moves To End Transplant Discrimination Against Medical Marijuana Patients

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Bill Headed To Governor Jerry Brown's Desk

The California Senate on Monday approved AB 258, the Medical Cannabis Organ Transplant Act, by an overwhelming margin of 33-1. AB 258 prohibits discrimination against medical cannabis patients in the organ transplant process, unless a doctor has determined that medical cannabis use is clinically significant to the transplant process.

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

“AB 258 is about fundamental fairness and compassion,” said Don Duncan, ASA’s California director. “Legal medical cannabis patients should never face a choice between their doctor-recommended medicine and a life-saving organ transplant.

"AB 258 will help the law catch up with science, which has shown that medical cannabis patients are just as likely to benefit from an organ transplant as other patients,” 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 Jerry Brown to support AB 258.

U.S.: Best Practices Advocated For Labeling, Manufacturing Cannabis and Hemp Products

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Groups convene in Washington, DC for third annual national medical cannabis conference March 27-31

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) Cannabis Committee, in coordination with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), and the Hemp Industries Association (HIA), has announced the release of a joint statement advocating for implementation of best practices for the regulation of consumable, topical, and inhalant cannabis and hemp-derived products to ensure quality and consumer safety.

These best practices were developed with the input of numerous industry experts and establish common language and defined terms for the transparent and accurate labeling of these products to support responsible commerce and informed use of the cannabis plant.

AHPA, ASA and HIA will be promoting these best practices at the 3rd Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference being held March 27-31, in Washington, DC.

Recommendations for plant part identification

The AHPA Cannabis Committee has established a policy that lawfully-marketed products consisting of or including Cannabis spp. ingredients that are intended for oral ingestion, topical application, or inhalation be labeled to identify the part of the Cannabis plant from which the ingredient is derived (e.g., seed oil, flower extract, or extract of aerial parts). This policy does not apply to parts of the Cannabis plant provided to consumers in unprocessed and recognizable forms.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Advocacy Group Runs Ad In USA Today Announcing DC Conference

ASAConferenceAdUSAToday-MedicalMarijuanaLawsAreNotChangingThemselvesWeAre

3rd Annual Conference in Washington DC, March 27-31

Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) formally announced its third annual Unity Conference, "Wellness is Winning: Advancing Evidence Based Medical Cannabis Policy," by running an ad in USA Today.

The conference, which is being held in Washington, D.C. on March 27-31, 2015, will highlight medical and legal experts, policymakers, and a wide array of workshops and panels focusing on scientific research, strategic planning, and skills building. On Tuesday, March 31st, ASA will host a press conference at 11am, followed by Congressional lobbying visits by hundreds of patient advocates.

What: National Unity Conference: "Wellness is Winning: Advancing Evidence Based Medical Cannabis Policy"
When: March 27-31, 2015, including a press conference at 11 am on March 31
Where: Loews Madison Hotel, 1177 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005

The quarter-page USA Today ad, which ran all last week in the newspaper's NFL Super Bowl Preview publication, appeared on news stands across the country. This week, a digital version of the ad is running online for millions of Internet viewers.

Sponsors of the ad include the American Herbal Products Association, Cannabis Training Institute, Patient Focused Certification, and OrganiCann.

U.S.: Advocates Launch 'Vote Medical Marijuana' Ahead of November Elections

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New tool makes political candidates' positions, records on medical marijuana more accessible to voters

The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has produced a new 30-second online TV advertisement to launch its groundbreaking, election-cycle voter education campaign "Vote Medical Marijuana." The ad will also air on this Sunday's morning cable news programs in Detroit, Philadelphia, South Florida, and Washington State.

The campaign features an interactive online voter's guide at VoteMedicalMarijuana.org that provides information on political candidate positions as well as voting statistics and a report card for each Member of Congress and certain state elected officials.

"We want to better educate supporters and the general public about casting their ballot for candidates who have their best interests in mind," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "Our elected representatives in Congress and in state legislatures are making policy decisions on medical marijuana that affect millions of patients in the U.S."

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Advocacy Group Announces 2nd Annual Conference in DC

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Scientists, patients, doctors, advocates, lawyers, policymakers unite at April 5-7 conference to advance public health policy reforms

Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) formally announced on Friday its second annual Unity Conference, "Navigating Medical Cannabis in the Mainstream," to be held in Washington, D.C. on April 5-7, 2014.

The conference will highlight medical and legal experts, policymakers, and a wide array of workshops and panels focusing on scientific research, strategic planning, and skills building. On Monday, April 7, ASA will host a press conference at 11 am, followed by a Hill briefing at Noon and a lobby day with hundreds of patient advocates.

"With medical marijuana moving more into the mainstream, patients and advocates are coming together to learn about the science and how to utilize increased attention on cannabis to bring about meaningful change," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "This conference is not just for patients and advocates, however, it's also for lawyers, doctors, policymakers, and key stakeholders in the effort to establish medical marijuana as one of the public health issues of our time."

What: National Unity Conference: "Navigating Medical Cannabis in the Mainstream"
When: April 5-7, 2014, including a press conference at 11 am on April 7
Where: The Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Group Certifies First Dispensaries In Effort To Institute Quality Standards

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Two California dispensaries are first to complete certification program with pending certifications in six states

Patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Thursday certified the first two dispensaries in the country for its new nationwide program that verifies the quality and reliability of products sold at licensed medical marijuana businesses. The certifications issued to Berkeley Patients Group and SPARC of San Francisco are based on the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program, the only nonprofit, third-party certification for the medical marijuana industry based on new quality standards issued by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the American Herbal Pharmacopeia (AHP).

"The Patient Focused Certification program is long overdue," said Sebastopol Mayor Robert Jacob, who is also director of Peace in Medicine and SPARC, the San Francisco-based medical marijuana dispensary certified today. "Patients deserve to know that the products they receive are of the highest standard."

"As Mayor of Sebastopol, I am relieved to know that there are product safety standards established by a trusted national organization to help guide local governments," Jacob said.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Advocates Say President Obama Has Authority Over Classification

MarijuanaRightHere

Obama Administration and Congress can each reclassify marijuana for medical use

Medical marijuana advocates are telling President Obama he has the power to reclassify marijuana after he said on Friday that it is up to Congress. In an exclusive CNN interview, President Barack Obama responded to a question about the federal government's classification of marijuana by saying that, "what is and isn't a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress."

"President Obama just told the nation during his State of the Union address that because Congress has been unable to act, he would take executive action where he could on behalf of helping the American people," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "The president has the authority to reclassify marijuana and could exercise that authority at any time."

In addition to Congress, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Attorney General have the authority to reschedule marijuana. Congress in 1970 classified marijuana as a Schedule I substance, meaning it is considered a dangerous drug with a high potential for abuse and has no accepted medical value.

Since then, scientists have discovered the plant has unique therapeutic potential to safely treat a remarkably broad range of serious medical conditions, from multiple sclerosis to cancer.

Georgia: Family Fights For Medical Marijuana Law For 4-Year-Old Daughter

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A Georgia family is fighting for access to a type of oil derived from marijuana to help their four-year-old daughter treat a disorder that causes up to 100 seizures a day.

Brian and Janea Cox want their daughter Haleigh to try a compound made from "a special kind of marijuana that's high in CBD (cannabidiol) that helps the brain, and low in THC," (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, reports Maggie Lee at The Telegraph.

Janea Cox said her daughter is on benzodiazepines and opiates that make her sleep 18 hours a day, but can't get the cannabis oil that could help her the most, reports Lori Geary at WSB-TV. Children in Colorado with similar disorders have seen amazing results after being treated with cannabis oil, which is legal there, she said.

"It's good to see people are opening their eyes," Janea said. "Hundreds of kids die every day because of seizures. I don't want her to be one of those kids. So, I'm going to constantly fight."

Back in 1980, the Georgia Legislature created the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Program, setting up a process for doctors to investigate the effects of marijuana on patients with glaucoma and other conditions. But that program was unworkable as written; it never attracted any researchers or patients.

U.S.: Experts Discuss New Cannabis Monograph On Google Hangout At 5:30 pm PT Thursday

ASAGoogleHangout

Scientific data, standards put to rest the notion that medical marijuana is a dangerous drug with no medical value

Patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is hosting a Google Hangout Thursday at 5:30pm PT (8:30 pm ET) with a panel of leading medical and scientific experts to discuss by video the new cannabis monograph from the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), an authoritative compendium of scientific data, including long-awaited standards for the plant's identity, purity, quality, and botanical properties.

What: Google Hangout video discussion with experts on the significance of the recently released Cannabis monograph, followed by a Q&A
When: Today, Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 5:30pm PT (8:30pm ET)
Where: Go to http://www.safeaccessnow.org/asa_live to join the Google Hangout, which is open to the public.
Featuring: Several authors of the cannabis monograph, including American Herbal Pharmacopoeia Executive Director Roy Upton, RH, DAyu; University of Massachusetts Amherst Professor Lyle Craker, PhD; and cannabis researchers Dr. Michelle Sexton, ND, and Dr. Jahan Marcu, PhD.

U.S.: Experts Issue Standards on Cannabis, Restore Classification as a Botanical Medicine

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American Herbal Pharmacopoeia monograph lays scientific foundation for quality assurance and expanded research

The American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), in a historic move, on Wednesday released the first installation of a two-part Cannabis monograph that classifies cannabis (marijuana) as a botanical medicine, alongside many other widely accepted complementary and alternative medicines.

Written and reviewed by the world's leading experts, the cannabis monograph brings together an authoritative compendium of scientific data, including long-awaited standards for the plant's identity, purity, quality, and botanical properties. The monograph provides a foundation for health care professionals to integrate cannabis therapy into their practices on the basis of a full scientific understanding of the plant, its constituent components, and its biologic effects.

"The inclusion of cannabis in the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia returns the plant to its place alongside as a proven botanical medicine, which has been used for centuries by countries and cultures around the world," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which helped support the development of the cannabis monograph.

"Health care professionals, researchers and regulators now have the tools to develop effective public health programs for medical marijuana and to further explore its therapeutic benefits," Sherer said.

U.S.: Report Says Medical Marijuana States Already In Compliance With Federal Guidelines

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Patient advocates call on Congress to adopt binding changes to new federal policy

Medical marijuana advocates Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Monday issued a report that analyzes the Obama Administration's latest enforcement guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that regulate medical marijuana distribution. The report, "Third Time the Charm? State Laws on Medical Cannabis Distribution and Department of Justice Guidance on Enforcement," shows that states have already enacted regulations that meet federal concerns, and some would have stronger regulations if it were not for federal threats that disrupted the legislative process.

The report concludes with recommendations for how federal and state legislators can protect patients and harmonize state and federal policies.

Medical marijuana patients greeted the Department of Justice (DOJ) memo issued August 31 by U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole with cautious optimism. The memo is the third from the Obama Administration that attempts to rein in federal prosecutors in states that allow for regulated distribution of marijuana.

The first memo, issued in October 2009 by Cole's predecessor, then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, did not stop various federal prosecutors from attempting to thwart the implementation of several state medical marijuana laws. A report issued by ASA earlier this year put the cost of federal interference with state medical marijuana programs at more than $300 million.

Michigan: Legislators Propose Selling Marijuana Through Pharmacies

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Some Michigan lawmakers want medical marijuana -- legalized by state voters five years ago -- to be sold through pharmacies.

Claiming it's time to bring cannabis "into the fold of the health care industry so patients can buy it at their corner pharmacy," Sen. Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw Township) and others are backing a bill approved by a state Senate committee last week which would prepare the way for "pharmaceutical grade" cannabis sales, reports David Eggert at The Associated Press.

The measure would create a second system of access to medical marijuana in Michigan, one that its backers say "would not interfere" with the existing law, under which patients can grow their own cannabis or obtain it from designated caregivers. (Of course, the patients of Washington state would be quick to warn folks in other places about a "second system" promised to "not interfere" with safe access, since that's not been the case with I-502 "legalization" there.)

Safe access to medicinal cannabis has been iffy in the state since a Michigan Supreme Court decision which effectively declared dispensaries illegal, by ruling they weren't covered in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

California: Third Trial Wrapping Up For San Diego Medical Marijuana Dispensary Owner

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The third trial against medical marijuana dispensary operator and Navy veteran Jovan Jackson is coming to an end Friday in San Diego Superior Court, before Judge Louis R. Hanoian. Closing arguments were underway Friday morning and the jury was expected to begin deliberations on the verdict after lunch.

San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a staunch -- nay, fanatical -- opponent of medical marijuana, has waged a years-long effort to rid the county of dispensaries, and Jackson has borne the biggest brunt.

After a 2008 law enforcement raid, Jackson was tried in 2009 for possession and sales of marijuana, but was acquitted by a jury. Dissatisfied with that result, District Attorney Dumanis tried Jackson again on the same charges stemming from another raid in 2009.

At his second trial in 2010, Jackson was denied a defense and ultimately convicted. However, with the help of patient advocates Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Jackson appealed and overturned his conviction with a 2011 landmark decision that gives dispensary operators the right to a defense in state court. Instead of admitting defeat, Dumanis is choosing to retry Jackson for a third time.

California: Marijuana First Banned In State 100 Years Ago

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

It's been 100 years since California became the first states in the U.S. to ban marijuana. Weed historian and cannabis legalization advocate Dale Gieringer says the key date is August 10, 1913, when the state Board of Pharmacy was authorized to add "loco-weed" to the state's Poison Act.

"They began launching raids," said Gieringer, state coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), reports Christina Villacorte at the Los Angeles Daily News. "Law enforcement would pose as addicts who needed a fix but didn't have a doctor's note, then arrest the druggist."

"The 1913 law received no public notice in the press, but was passed as an obscure technical amendment by the State Board of Pharmacy, which was then leading one of the nation's earliest and most aggressive anti-narcotics campaigns," Gieringer reports on CA NORML's website. "Inspired by anti-Chinese sentiment, California was a nationally recognized pioneer in the war on drugs."

The bill passed with no public debate, according to Gieringer. It was opposed by the state's druggists, but the Legislature passed it unanimously, and it went into effect on August 10, 1913.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul Claims Marijuana Use 'Not Healthy', Causes 'Loss of IQ'

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Wanna-be libertarian Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is at it again. On Thursday, he repeated his personal opposition to marijuana use, but he went farther than that -- way farther. He also claimed pot use is "not healthy" and causes a "loss of IQ."

"Wait a minute," you may be thinking. "I thought libertarians favored letting people make their own decisions about such things." Well, if that's so, then maybe Sen. Paul isn't a libertarian. Maybe he's just some ignorant, conservative loudmouth who, unfortunately, also managed to get himself elected to the U.S. Senate.

"I personally think that marijuana use is not healthy," Sen. Paul told the Las Vegas Sun in an interview published on Wednesday. "People that use it chronically have a loss of IQ and a loss of ambition, but at the same time states have the right to make these decisions."

Would it be too much to ask to expect Sen. Paul to base his public pronouncements about pot on actual facts rather than 20th Century misinformation? Apparently so.

California: San Diego Mayor Calls For Jury Nullification In Medical Marijuana Case

SanDiegoMayorBobFilner

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner on Monday took on the federal government and its crackdown on medical marijuana. Filner held a press conference in support of medical marijuana patient Ronnie Chang, who was operating state-licensed dispensaries, calling for jury nullification in the case.

Chang's supporters say he was wrongfully arrested and persecuted in federal raids back in 2009, reports Sharon Chen at Fox 5 San Diego.

"Ronnie Chang has been in custody for about five months," said Terrie Best of San Diego Americans for Safe Access. "He has a very infirm mother he had been supporting and taking care of."

Chang's attorney, Michael McCabe, on Monday appeared before a federal magistrate judge to argue a temporary gag order against him be lifted. McCabe was criticized by supporters of the federal crackdown for appearing in a video blasting U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy, who has overseen the crackdown in Southern California.

The persecution of Chang is bias-driven and vindictive, according to McCabe.

Prosecutors wanted all material regarding the case removed from the internet and social networks, which makes one wonder why they are afraid of the truth. A federal judge wouldn't enforce the gag order, but instead McCabe agreed not to "try the case in front of the press."

The prosecutors came to their senses, backing down from their ridiculous request to remove information from the internet.

California: San Diego Publishes Mayor's Proposal For Medical Marijuana Regulation

(Photo: Nuggetry)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The City of San Diego has published Mayor Bob Filner's proposal for medical cannabis regulation for public review, prior to its public hearing at City Council on Monday, April 22. The proposal is based on the recommendations of the medical marijuana task force organized by City Council President Todd Gloria in 2010.

It allows medical cannabis dispensaries to exist in designated commercial and industrial areas of the city with large buffers from sensitive areas, including a 600-foot buffer from schools and parks and a 1,000-foot buffer between dispensaries. The proposal also contains additional strict operating requirements including security systems, restriction on hours of operations and signage.

The response among many in the medical cannabis community has been positive. "We want there to be access in San Diego City," said Ken Cole, president of the United Patients’ Alliance, a trade association of medical cannabis distributors. "However, we also want operators to behave in a responsible manner, where the patients and public can feel safe and respected. Mayor Filner's proposal provides both access to patients and enhanced safety to the community. "

Bob Riedel, vice president of the United Patients' Alliance, who formerly operated the only licensed medical cannabis dispensary in the county of San Diego, agreed.

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