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U.S.: New Medical Marijuana Guidelines Issued By National Herbal Medicine Industry Group

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Botanical medicine standards released as Colorado medical marijuana business sees first product recall in U.S.

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) on Tuesday released its long-awaited medical marijuana manufacturing guidelines, completing its compendium of industry standards which include regulatory recommendations for cannabis from seed to sale. The AHPA manufacturing guidelines come as licensed Colorado business "At Home Baked" sees the country's first medical marijuana product recall.

A new nationwide program called Patient Focused Certification (PFC), a project of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), aims to bring greater standardization to the medical marijuana industry. The PFC program uses the recently completed AHPA guidelines in combination with standards set by American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) for the plant's identity, purity, quality and botanical properties. Together, these standards have the means to bring greater accountability to the industry and increased safety for patients, according to the group.

"Although medical marijuana is one of the safest medicines used today, it's important for patients to have industry standards that ensure the highest product quality and reliability," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "The AHPA guidelines issued today not only provide a blueprint for product recalls, like the one in Denver, but also establishes sound manufacturing procedures that will help avoid such recalls in the future."

Washington: 'Vote Medical Marijuana' TV Ads Spotlight Members of Congress

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Patient advocates produce new ads in an effort to educate public, hold federal policymakers accountable

The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is running two new 30-second TV advertisements on MSNBC, CNN, and HLN in eastern Washington state every day this week. The ads draw attention to the Kettle Falls 5 case -- a federal prosecution against patients lawfully growing for their own personal use -- and spotlight how Members of Congress voted last month on a House measure to curb this type of federal medical marijuana enforcement.

One of the ads focuses on Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who grew up in Kettle Falls and now represents the same district where defendant Larry Harvey lives. On May 30, Rep. McMorris Rodgers voted against a bipartisan measure that would protect her constituents by restricting Department of Justice (DOJ) spending on enforcement in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Despite Washington's 16-year-old medical marijuana law and the questionable enforcement practices occurring in her own district, McMorris Rodgers has consistently opposed medical marijuana reform in Congress.

U.S.: TV Ads Call Out Congressional Opponents of Medical Marijuana

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Patient advocates are producing ads in an effort to educate public, hold federal policymakers accountable

The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is running 30-second TV advertisements on MSNBC in Maryland and South Florida over the next few days to draw attention to Members of Congress who opposed medical marijuana reform in last week's House vote.

One of the ads focuses on Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who spoke out on the House floor against a measure that restricts Justice Department funds spent on medical marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized its use. Despite the recent passage of a medical marijuana law in his State of Maryland, Rep. Harris made the claim Friday that "Marijuana is neither safe nor legal."

The other ad focuses on Democratic National Committee Chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who was one of only 18 House Democrats to vote against the medical marijuana measure last week. Notably, Rep. Wasserman Schultz voted contrary to several other Democrats in her South Florida delegation.

Minnesota: Advocates Welcome 22nd Medical Marijuana State, Object To Restrictions

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Minnesota Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Bill Into Law; Patients and Advocates to Hold Event at Governor’s Residence to Highlight How the Bill Will Not Help Tens of Thousands of Seriously Ill Minnesotans

Group will deliver 33 flowers to Gov. Dayton at 11 a.m. on Friday; each flower will represent 1,000 Minnesotans — based on state officials’ estimates — who will still not be allowed to access medical marijuana because the governor blocked more effective, widely supported legislation

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on Thursday signed a bill into law officially making Minnesota the 22nd state in the nation to allow people with debilitating conditions to access medical marijuana if their doctors recommend it. Patient advocates celebrated the passage of SF 2470, which will protect some patients from arrest, prosecution, and discrimination, as well as license two cultivators of medical marijuana and eight distribution centers across the state.

However, advocates voiced concerns that the law prohibits smoking medical marijuana as well as the use and possession of the dried, whole-plant flowers, which is the method and form most widely and effectively used.

U.S.: New Review of Epilepsy and Medical Marijuana Provides Scientific Evidence

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"Cannabis in the Treatment of Epilepsy" comes as demand grows for using the plant to treat intractable seizure disorders

The medical research group American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) has issued a new scientific review entitled "Cannabis in the Treatment of Epilepsy," which it is offering for free to the public. The review compiles much of the leading and historical research on epilepsy and cannabis (medical marijuana) for use by scientists, physicians, patients, and parents, as well as those producing and manufacturing it for treatment.

This newly compiled scientific information on epilepsy and medical marijuana comes as CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta aired a follow-up documentary to last year's "Weed," both of which feature children whose parents use cannabis to help treat rare and sever forms of epilepsy unresponsive to medication. "Weed 2" highlights the plight of Vivian Wilson, a two-year-old who suffered 75 seizures a day, while Dr. Gupta's first documentary featured Charlotte Figi, a seven-year-old whose use of cannabis reduced her seizures from 300 per week to three or four a month.

"This review of cannabis and epilepsy provides scientific foundation for the claims being made by CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "This material provides us with the tools to increase our knowledge and build on the research that already exists."

U.S.: Congress Calls On President Obama To Use His Authority To Reclassify Marijuana

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Letter signed by 18 federal legislators says marijuana's current status "makes no sense"

Eighteen Members of Congress joined together Wednesday in calling on President Obama to use his authority to reclassify marijuana from its current position as a dangerous drug, alongside heroin and LSD, with no medical value. A letter sent by federal legislators says that marijuana's current status "makes no sense," and requests that President Obama "instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way." The Congressional letter comes just days after Obama told The New Yorker magazine that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol.

Although marijuana was sold as an over-the-counter medicine until the 1930s, produced by the likes of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 classified marijuana as a Schedule I substance. Ignoring White House-appointed commissions, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) judges, and reports, all calling for marijuana's reclassification, the federal government has refused to recognize the medical science and popular will in order to maintain marijuana's current status.

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

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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.

U.S.: New Nationwide Certification Program Aims To Bring Quality Assurance To Medical Marijuana

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Independent certification will benefit patients, healthcare providers, and regulators implementing medical marijuana laws

Patient advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) on Tuesday launched a new nationwide program that the group says will certify the quality and reliability of medical marijuana products sold at licensed businesses. Patient Focused Certification (PFC) is 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), according to ASA.

Earlier this year, AHPA issued a series of recommendations for state regulators, providing standards for the medical marijuana industry in the areas of manufacturing, packaging and labeling, dispensary operations, and laboratory practices. AHPA has since issued standards for commercial medical marijuana products, as well as the reliability and quality of related services. More recently, AHP released a cannabis monograph that set standards for the plant's identity, purity, quality, and botanical properties.

"In every city I visit across this country, patients say product safety and quality assurance are the issues they care about," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "As a patient advocacy organization, it was a natural fit for Americans for Safe Access to fill this much needed gap."

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

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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.

Washington: Medical Marijuana Advocates Mobilize To Protect Patient Rights Under I-502

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Liquor Control Board Announces Its Intention To Ban All Personal Cultivation and Collective Gardens; Eliminate Affirmative Defense; Void All Current Doctors' Authorizations

"Health Before Happy Hour" campaign seeks state legislation to protect patient rights, preserve and license dispensaries

Medical marijuana advocates will hold stakeholder meetings across Washington State next week in advance of submitting written public comments on regulations being developed for I-502, the state's recreational marijuana initiative passed last November. Meetings hosted by the Washington chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) will be held from October 27th-30th in Bellingham, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, and Yakima.

Beginning Monday, a working group established by I-502, which includes the Liquor Control Board, the Department of Health, and the Department of Revenue, will be accepting public input on draft regulations between October 21-November 8.

Among the work group’s proposed changes:
• Ban all personal cultivation and collective gardens
• Lower possession limit from 24 ounces to 3 ounces
• Eliminate the affirmative defense for proving medical necessity above possession limits
• Void all current doctors’ recommendations and require new evaluations under harder-to-meet definitions of qualifying conditions
• Restrict medical professionals to eliminate specialty cannabis practices and make recommendations equivalent to prescribing opiates

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