Sunday, May 27, 2018

Americans For Safe Access Capitol Hill Press Conference - Unity 2018

End Pain. Not Lives! 

WASHINGTON, DC ~ May 23rd 2018 -- Proponents of medical cannabis descended on the U.S. Capitol in droves this past Wednesday, saying that their efforts are moving toward success.

Two pro-cannabis groups, the National Cannabis Industry Association and Americans for Safe Access, held press conferences and met with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Combined, they brought just about 420 people to Washington. For Americans For Safe Access, this year's conference will focus on the life-saving role that medical cannabis can play in the fight against the Opioid Epidemic. 

In 2017 ASA launched the End Pain, Not Lives campaign, to help protect current medical cannabis programs, remove barriers for people with pain, chronic pain, and Opioid Use Disorder, and to educate medical professionals, service providers, and patients about medical cannabis and pain.

Although numerous research studies show that states with medical cannabis programs have nearly a 40% decrease in opioid overdose deaths, more than 90% of Americans think that cannabis should be made legal, and 46 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia all have some form of a medical cannabis program, cannabis is still not an option for many. Due to the federal-state legal conflict, inadequacies in state laws, and lack of medical professional and patient education, even in states with operating medical cannabis programs, many patients are unable to apply, afford, or benefit from medical cannabis available in their state.

Patrick Saint

Patrick Saint from Twenty22Many-Olympia spoke, telling lawmakers;
“You (Lawmakers) can not jump on the “Let’s End the Veteran Suicide Epidemic” Band Wagon and not also fully support Medical Cannabis Legalization and Access for all Veterans in all States... Every so called lawmaker who does not have Ending the Veteran Suicide Epidemic on the top of his or her legislative agenda....


We have a Vietnam Memorial Wall in honor of those who gave all and sacrificed all... Maybe someday there will be a Memorial Wall for all Veteran Suicides.... Sadly however, It will need to be much bigger and longer....

When will this craziness end?”

"Public opinion is changing on this issue," said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., the chief sponsor of the Medical Cannabis Research Act, which authorizes research into the medical benefits of marijuana. "Congress is behind. We need to catch up."

Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL) unveiled the Medical Cannabis Research Act of 2018 on April 26th 2018. The legislation, which was introduced with widespread bipartisan support, finally allows researchers to study the potential cures medical cannabis may unlock. Further scientific research on medical cannabis could unlock cures for veterans, the chronically ill, and the elderly. Rep. Gaetz’s legislation does not change the legal status of cannabis, and does not interfere with federal, state, or local cannabis laws. The following Members of Congress also participated in the press conference: Reps. Darren Soto (FL-09), Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Lou Correa (CA-46), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) and Barbara Lee (CA-13).

Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL) 

“Cannabis reform has always faced a “catch 22” in congress,” said Gaetz, explaining that they (lawmakers) can’t change the law without having demonstrated research. “But, often times we cannot perform research without changing the law. Our bill ends this log jam, by opening access to cannabis research and pursuing potential cures wherever we may find them.”

The Medical Cannabis Research Act has a number of provisions. One would increase the amount of research grade medical cannabis, requiring at least three producers. Currently, there’s just one.

Congressman Steve Cohen (TN)

Also, the bill would create a “safe harbor” for academic and medical institutions that want to engage in medical cannabis research, without risking other federal grants they receive. And, it would allow for a more collaborative environment between researchers and private sector innovators.

The NFL recently rejected the first-ever request from a player for a “therapeutic use exemption” to the league’s medical cannabis ban. Mike James, a veteran NFL running back, put his career on the line to go public about his use of cannabis for football-related injuries.

Sharing his story in a recent CNN documentary, James revealed that the league rejected his doctor’s recommendation of medical marijuana for his chronic pain. The player is just one in a growing chorus of pro-football athletes advocating for cannabis as an alternative to dangerous opioids, often overprescribed by sports medicine doctors. But James is the first to formally request an exemption from the NFL’s ban and now, as an unsigned agent, has placed his career in jeopardy.

Mike James

“We know how the NFL feels about marijuana,” James said. “And we know young men’s livelihoods are in the balance. They fear losing this [career] and not being able to take care of their family. What I’m trying to do is open the door, open pathways to give guys a plan.”

Doctors for Cannabis Regulation backed James in his request for an exemption. The nonprofit advocacy group, whose steering committee features former players Ricky Williams, Eugene Monroe and current Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan, has consistently lobbied the NFL to change its marijuana policies and was in touch with the NFL Players Association ahead of James’ filing, according to the Washington Post.

Currently, 30 states plus the District of Columbia have already legalized medical cannabis. However, federal law leaves doctors who prescribe, patients who use, and businesses that sell medical cannabis vulnerable to federal arrest and prosecution. As a currently classified Schedule I drug, federal law also severely restricts medical cannabis research, which is desperately needed to learn more about the substance’s medicinal properties.


The bipartisan CARERS Act reduces the role of the federal government in formulating drug policy and allows states to make determinations on their own drug policies. Giving the power to decide drug policy to the states reinforces the principles of federalism on which our country was founded. CARERS stands for Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States. The original version of the bill would have ended the drug war, at least with regard to cannabis. This latest version is softer.

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act would amend federal law to allow states to set their own medical cannabis policies. The bill would also permit doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe veterans medical cannabis to treat serious injuries and chronic conditions.

The legislation does not legalize medical cannabis in all 50 states; rather, it respects the states’ decisions to legalize medical cannabis and prevents federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors, and caregivers in those states.

“Federal marijuana policy has long overstepped the boundaries of common sense, fiscal prudence, and compassion,” said Senator Booker. "This bill will help ensure that people who can benefit from medical marijuana – from children suffering from chronic illnesses to veterans battling PTSD – can do so without worrying about the federal government standing in the way.”

Specifically, the CARERS Act would:

(1) Recognize States’ Responsibility to Set Medical Cannabis Policy & Eliminate Potential Federal Prosecution

The CARERS Act amends the Controlled Substances Act so that states can set their own medical cannabis policies. The patients, providers, and businesses participating in state medical cannabis programs will no longer be in violation of federal law and vulnerable to federal prosecution.

(2) Allow States to Import Cannabidiol (CBD), Recognized Treatment for Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders

The CARERS Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to remove specific strains of CBD oil from the federal of definition of cannabis. This change will allow youth suffering from intractable epilepsy to gain access to the medicine they need to control their seizures.

(3) Provide Veterans Access

Current law prohibits doctors in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities from prescribing medical cannabis. The CARERS Act would allow VA doctors in states where medical cannabis is legal to recommend medical cannabis to military veterans.

(4) Expand Opportunities for Research

The CARERS Act removes unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles for researchers to gain government approval to undertake important research on cannabis and creates a system for the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage research.
"The CARERS Act would protect patients like me," said 17 year-old Jennifer Collins of Fairfax, Virginia, who spoke at the press conference introducing the bill. Jennifer uses medical cannabis to treat her epilepsy. "Medical cannabis has reduced my absence seizures, eliminated my grand mal seizures, and enabled me to be almost completely off the pharmaceuticals that made me suffer so many horrible side-effects. It gave me my life back."

The CARERS Act has the support of more than 20 health, veteran and policy organizations, including: American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Safe Access, Compassionate Care NY, Coalition for Medical Marijuana NJ, Drug Policy Alliance, Housing Works, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Marijuana Policy Project, MS Resources of Central New York, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, NY Physicians for Compassionate Care, Parents Coalition for Rescheduling Medical Cannabis, Patients Out of Time, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, The American Cannabis Nurses Association, The Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, Third Way, Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, Veterans for Peace and Veterans for Safe Access and Compassionate Care.

Please Tell Your US Congressional Members to Support, 
Vote for, and to Co-Sponsor
the CARERS Act!