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United States: Congress Revives Federal Medical Cannabis Legislation with CARERS Act

US Capitol

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

A new federal bill, the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act (CARERS), sponsored by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), would take four major actions to protect state medical marijuana programs. The bill would prohibit the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical cannabis laws, allow Veterans Administration doctors to recommend cannabis in legal states, expand research on cannabis, and remove cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act.

Maryland: Senate Passes Bill To Expand List Of Who Can Recommend Medical Marijuana

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By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Yesterday, the Maryland Senate passed House Bill 104 Medical Cannabis- Written Certifications-Certifying Providers by a vote of 36-10.

Governor Larry Hogan (R) is expected to sign the legislation, which will allow dentists, podiatrists, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives to provide written certification for medical marijuana to qualifying patients. The law currently only allows physicians to prescribe the drug.

These additional medical providers would be required to have an active, unrestricted license, be in good standing with their respective board, and have a state contolled dangerous substances (CDS) registration in order to qualify to be a provider.

Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, commended the Maryland General Assembly, saying "I am pleased to see the Maryland legislature recognizing that medical cannabis therapies should be an option for all medical professionals in treating their patients.”

If Gov. Hogan signs the legislation, Maryland would join at least two other states that have a more inclusive approach to the types of licensed health care providers who can make written recommendations under their state’s medical cannabis program.

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.

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.

Maryland: ASA To Provide Training For Medical Marijuana Compliance Inspectors

MarylandMedicalCannabisLegalManual[ASA]

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.: 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

EarlBlumenauerSmiling[KATU]

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.

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

CaliforniaMedicalMarijuana

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.

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

Weed3TheMarijuanaRevolution

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

Weed3TheMarijuanaRevolutionHostingParty[MAPS]

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.

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.

D.C.: Medical Marijuana Advocacy Group To Host 3rd Annual Conference

ASAConferenceAdUSAToday-MedicalMarijuanaLawsAreNotChangingThemselvesWeAre

Scientists, patients, doctors, advocates, lawyers, policymakers unite to further advance public health policy reforms

Medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), will hold its third annual national Unity Conference, "Wellness is Winning," in Washington, D.C. on March 27-31, 2015.

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 Tuesday, March 31, ASA will host a press conference at 11 a.m., followed by a lobby day with hundreds of patient advocates.

What: Third Annual National Unity Conference, "Wellness is Winning"
When: March 27-31, 2015, including a press conference at 11 a.m. on March 31
Where: Loews Madison Hotel, 1177 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C.; press conference will be on the Capitol grounds
Media is invited to attend the conference at no charge; participants are encouraged to register in advance.

"Patients and advocates are excited to be gathering this year after an historic victory in Congress, which paved the way for a very promising bill in the U.S. Senate," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "Hundreds of patients and advocates will gather in the nation's capitol next week with a unified goal to urge Congress to adopt sensible federal medical marijuana policy reform."

Global: Groups From 13 Countries Form New International Cannabis Patient Coalition

InternationalMedicalCannabisPatientCoalitionIMCPC(logo)

Coalition ratifies declaration this past week in Prague, urging the UN to reclassify cannabis plant for medical use

Medical cannabis patients from 13 countries, including those represented by U.S. advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), established the International Medical Cannabis Patients Coalition (IMCPC) this past week while at the "Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Policy, Research and Medical Practice" conference in Prague from March 4-7. IMCPC member countries include Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.

The first action of the IMCPC was to ratify a declaration urging the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs to either reclassify cannabis for medical use, convene a UN Special Convention on Cannabis, or simply exclude cannabis from the UN Single Convention on Narcotics. The IMCPC declaration will be delivered to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna this week by Pavel Bem, the Czech representative for the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

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.: Senate Joins House In Ending Federal-State Conflict Over Medical Marijuana

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"Now that we are in a 'ceasefire,' patients are ready to work with Congress on comprehensive medical marijuana legislation."
~Steph Sherer, executive director, Americans for Safe Access (ASA)

Advocates say restriction on enforcement will end federal prosecutions, asset forfeiture litigation, and imprisonment of patients

With Saturday night's U.S. Senate vote, both houses of Congress have now approved an omnibus spending bill, which includes a measure prohibiting the Department of Justice (DOJ) from interfering in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

Patient advocates argue, with concurrence from law enforcement, that this historic measure, if signed into law by President Obama as expected, will dramatically impact DOJ enforcement, including ending federal medical marijuana raids, arrests, criminal prosecutions, and civil asset forfeiture lawsuits, as well as providing prisoners with a way to petition for their release.

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 Advocates Survey Candidates Ahead of November Elections

VoteMedicalMarijuana2014

The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has produced a new 30-second online advertisement to launch its survey drive for for this year's election-cycle educational campaign. (You can view the ad at the bottom of this article.)

The ad will also air on this Sunday's morning TV cable news programs in Detroit, Philadelphia, Sacramento, South Florida, and Washington State. As part of its groundbreaking "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign, ASA has sent out more than 2,000 candidate surveys to help patients and the general public make more informed electoral decisions based on candidates' positions on medical marijuana.

More than 100 candidates in federal and state races across the country have sent in responses so far. The "Vote Medical Marijuana" campaign will focus on as many as 435 U.S. House races, 36 U.S. Senate races, 36 gubernatorial races, and 31 state attorney general races, as well as more than 360 state legislative races in California, Florida, and Washington.

"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. "We hope this outreach effort will show our country’s leading politicians how significant medical marijuana is to their election campaigns."

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