Thursday, May 17, 2012

How AB 2312 Impedes Safe, Affordable Access & Why SB 1182 Is A More Workable Law

In reaction to US Attorneys’ threats on the State of California to shut down all medical cannabis collectives, Assembly Member Tom Ammiano introduced Assembly Bill 2312, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Control Act.  The 6,500-word Act imposes a regulatory system that impacts all areas of the State that have not yet implemented a local medical cannabis ordinance.  Collectives in cities such as San Francisco and Oakland may be grandfathered. 

AB 2312 is an example of a bill that takes-away-your-freedom-in-order-to-protect-you.  Assembly Member Ammiano will have you believe that this law will appease federal authorities and end the attack on our State’s medical cannabis laws.  (It didn’t work for Colorado.)  Unfortunately,  AB 2312 creates a large bureaucracy of non-elected, non-voter-accountable, politically appointed individuals that will decide the fate of collectives across the State.  Collectives pending consideration must close, pay yet-to-be-determined fees and attend an unknown number of hearings prior to any potential approval. 

The proposed legislation broadly requires that every dispensary site, every garden, every cannabis kitchen, storage site, curing location, concentrate production, testing – you name it – if it comes in contact with medical cannabis, the patient must be approved by the newly created Board of Medical Marijuana Enforcement as a “Mandatory registrant.”  The bill does not allow for any citizen oversight, is ripe for corruption and defeats any attempt to keep medical cannabis affordable.  Legal professionals point to provisions that prevent patients from obtaining a physician’s recommendation as unconstitutional.  The bill’s aggressive supporters do so with questionable intent.

Senate Bill 1182 introduced by State Senator Mark Leno simply proposes to adopt the currently non-binding ‘Attorney General Guidelines’ as law and protects patients from prosecution for “marijuana commerce” as long as all activities are compliant with the Guidelines.  Many collectives argue that they already comply with the current AG Guidelines: maintaining a not-for-profit, private, closed-loop organization made up only of legally qualified patients and caregivers.   

The digest for SB 1182  states:
This bill (1) provides that a cooperative, collective or other business entity that operates within the Attorney General's (AG) guidelines shall not be subject to prosecution for marijuana possession or commerce, as specified; and (2) provides that where such an entity operates within the AG's guidelines, the entity and its employees, officers and members shall not be subject to prosecution for marijuana commerce because the entity or its employees, officers, or members received compensation for actual expenses incurred in carrying out activities in compliance with the guidelines.

SB 1182 continues,  “Existing law directs the AG to develop and adopt appropriate guidelines to ensure the security and nondiversion of medical marijuana.”  Senator Leno’s workable proposal puts medical cannabis compliance in the hands of one Statewide elected official, our Attorney General, who is more easily accessible and approachable  than the all-appointed, 9-member Board of Medical Marijuana Enforcement.  SB 1182 does not require lengthy, expensive State registration and approval.  Municipalities remain responsible for implementing local zoning ordinances, which require local input. 

Senator Leno states SB 1182 is a “focused solution,” which is true enough when compared to  the convoluted approach of AB 2312.  All medical cannabis patients and physicians will be impacted by these potential laws and are encouraged to learn more and act accordingly.  Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact PAN. 

Monday, May 07, 2012

Patient Advocates Succeed In Getting Action From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

Last week PAN and our sister organization Axis of Love SF co-sponsored the event to deliver thousands of signatures to Representative Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco office.  The Patient Advocacy Committee of the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Task Force and the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club coordinated the signature drive. 

As a result of the effort, Rep. Pelosi issued a statement on her Congressional website “in response to recent federal government actions threatening safe access to medicinal marijuana.”

Many thanks to everyone who got involved. 

Below is the press release following the event:

For Immediate Release

For more information contact: 
(415) 240-5247

San Francisco Medical Cannabis Patients Convince Congressional Representative Nancy Pelosi to Reaffirm Support for Medical Cannabis

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, May 7, 2012. On May 2, 2012, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi released a statement in reaction to a petition signed by thousands of San Francisco voters in support of medical cannabis patient rights.

 “Representative Pelosi’s statement empowers the local patients’ social justice movement.,” said Shona Gochenaur, chair of the Patient Advocacy Committee of the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Task  Force, the committee responsible for circulating and delivering the petition to Rep. Pelosi’s San Francisco office.  “[Pelosi] made no bones that the Department of Justice is using resources to circumvent state law and that healthcare is a civil right,” added Gochenaur.

The bold petition asked the Congressional Representative to defend medical cannabis dispensaries, to advise President Obama about the federal crackdown, to call for an investigation into the legality of the dispensary closures, and to facilitate setting up an emergency medical cannabis distribution system.

The effort was the strategic work of the Patient Advocacy Committee of the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Task Force and was co-sponsored by the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.  Several patients’ rights groups supported the rally, including San Francisco patients unions, Axis of Love SF, Hope.Net Patients Group, and Black and Brown Just Cannabis Policy. Patients’ rights leaders, Elise Cleveland, Gregory Leddbetter and Andrea Allen presented the thousands of voter signatures to the Representative’s office.

“We felt that Representative Pelosi would stay true to her commitments to patient rights and carry that message in a swift manner to the national level,” said Gochenaur.  

Link to video of the action:

*** Some accurate news articles:

For more information contact: 
(415) 240-5247



Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Medical Cannabis Patient Advocates In Solidarity With San Francisco


Medical Cannabis Patient Advocates In Solidarity With San Francisco
Please Act Nancy

Phone-in Action To Congressional Representative Nancy Pelosi
(415) 556-4862

US Attorneys have successfully shut down nearly half of the licensed dispensaries in San Francisco.  If federal authorities can shut down safe access in San Francisco, we are all at risk.

On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, patient advocates will deliver thousands of signatures to Representative Pelosi’s San Francisco office.  See full press release here:

Everyone who supports medical cannabis is urged to contact Congressional Representative Nancy Pelosi’s office at (415) 556-4862 on Wednesday, May 2, 2012, during business hours and leave a kind message with her staff stating:

*  You want to see an end to the federal crackdown on states with medical cannabis laws.
*  You want sensible federal cannabis laws that remove all of the criminal jeopardy under the Controlled Substances Act.
*  Remind her that she has the support of her constituents and the support of at least 80% of voting Americans on the issue of safe, legal medical cannabis. 

San Francisco is the birthplace of the medical cannabis legalization movement.  It is no accident that federal authorities are choosing to shut down all of the collectives there first.  Representative Pelosi has been silent for too, long.  She must speak up to President Obama, US Attorney General Eric Holder, US Attorney Melissa Haag and the rest of Congress. 

Patients Petition Representative Pelosi

U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi

For Immediate Release

For more information contact:
(415) 240-5247 

San Francisco Medical Cannabis Patients Petition Congressional Representative Nancy Pelosi

Advocates Deliver Thousands Of Signatures To San Francisco Federal Building At 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 2, 2012, Urging The Halt Of Federal Crackdown

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – May 1, 2012. The Patient Advocacy Committee of the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Task Force has gathered thousands of signatures from San Francisco voters urging Congressional Representative Nancy Pelosi help end the federal assault on medical cannabis cooperatives. Patient advocates will deliver several thousand signatures to the Congressional Representative’s office at the San Francisco Federal Building, 90 7th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 2, 2012, in response to the recent closures of regulated medical cannabis collectives and the five additional collectives slated to close their doors mid-May due to federal action. 

“Thousand of Pelosi’s constituents are being affected by this federal attack including our veterans and HIV/AIDS patients and many others.  She has the authority to help stop this assault on the patients and the will of the voters and these signatures are urging her to do so,” states Shona Gochenaur, member of the Patient Advocacy Committee of the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Task Force, a committee largely made up of low-income and disabled medical cannabis patients.

San Francisco Board of Supervisor David Campos has voiced concern for the civil rights and safety of the city’s disabled patients. “San Francisco has a regulatory system with neighborhood input and government oversight. It is misguided and wrong that US Attorney Melinda Haag would choose to target a well-implemented system and force disabled patients into a criminal arena for legal medicine.”

The San Francisco Health Department, which oversees the city’s medical cannabis program, is on public record stating that “no complaints” have been filed from the host neighborhoods of established and city permitted medical cannabis collectives. However, US Attorney Melinda Haag continues to seek closures of collectives based on “neighborhood complaints.”

“I’ve worked hard to improve our neighborhood,” states Cathy Smith, founder of Hope.Net, a city permitted medical cannabis collective whose landlord is threatened with asset forfeiture by US Attorneys.   “I don’t want to be punished for making it safe for children to walk down our streets.”

A recently passed San Francisco Democratic Party resolution, spearheaded by Gabriel Haaland, protects medical cannabis patients by calling on ALL Democratic leadership, including President Obama, Representative Pelosi, and Attorney General Eric Holder to protect safe access and not circumvent California State law with the US Department of Justice resources.  

The Harvey Milk LBGT Democratic Club also voted unanimously to co-sponsor the patient advocates’ petition to Representative Pelosi.  “The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club calls on representative Pelosi and all elected officials to protect our medical cannabis clubs and ensure access to medical cannabis for marginalized, low income patients and demand a stop to the harassment by federal agents,” states Glenn Hyde, President of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. 

Patient Advocacy Network supports the petition states Degé Coutee, president of the charitable civil rights education and medical cannabis patient advocacy organization based in Los Angeles.  “If US Attorneys aren’t stopped IN San Francisco, they aren’t going to stop WITH San Francisco.  Representative Pelosi is in such a strong position to help alter the direction of this issue locally and nationally.”

Sponsors:  The Patient Advocacy Committee of the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Task Force and The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club
Co-sponsors: Axis of Love SF, Patient Advocacy Network

For more information contact:
(415) 240-5247 

Link to petition: