Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Americans For Safe Access UNITY 2018 Lobby Days - A Federal Focus:


Safe Access New Mexico & New Mexico’s US Congressional Delegation


This year's conference placed focus on the life-saving role that medical cannabis can play in the fight against the Opioid Epidemic and supporting the bipartisan CARERS Act. 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.

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.

On Wednesday May 23rd 2018, medical cannabis advocates met with their Congressional Representatives to advocate for the End Pain, Not Lives campaign and supporting the bipartisan CARERS Act. For New Mexico and Safe Access New Mexico, I personally met with the following members offices while in Washington, D.C. :
Senator Tom Udall’s Office, Senator Martin Heinrich’s Office, Congressman Ben Ray Lujan’s Office, and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Office. (Congressman Steve Pearce’s Office scheduler did not respond to the meeting request.)

Here is a run down on New Mexico’s Congressional Delegation and what we discussed.

Each Office was provided a copy of the following:
Medical Cannabis in America- The Medical Cannabis Briefing Book, 115th Congress



This 65 page briefing book is intended for the members of the 115th Congress and the President of the United States to help them make informed decisions on medical cannabis policy. Medical Cannabis Programs serve approximately two million patients under physician supervision. The purpose of this briefing book is to provide members of congress and POTUS the necessary information to make well-informed decisions.

Medical Cannabis as a Tool to Combat Pain and Opioid Crisis



Using medical cannabis to treat chronic pain is an approach that is supported by research and medical professionals, and has demonstrated positive public health outcomes. Thirty states in the US have passed medical cannabis laws and another sixteen have passed more limited laws. Medical cannabis programs on average are serving 2% of the population despite a potential addressable market of 1/3 of the population that are living with chronic pain.

Chronic Pain is also part of over 300 different debilitating health conditions.

US Senate - Hart Building

Congressmember's name: Rep. Ben Ray Luján
https://lujan.house.gov/

*Provided a copy of: ‘Medical Cannabis in America: The Medical Cannabis Briefing Book’

Does the Member have a position on the CARERS Act?
Yes, supports CARERS Act but not a Co-Sponsor.

Ending Federal Interference: Does your Member support preventing the federal government from interfering with state medical cannabis programs?
Yes

Federal Barriers to Research: Does the Member support advancing medical cannabis research by eliminating the DEA-mandate “NIDA-monopoly” on federal research supplies of marijuana?
Yes

Removing CBD from the Controlled Substance Act: Does the Member support making CBD-rich products derived from cannabis legal to sell, possess, and transport without a physician’s recommendation?
Yes

Equal Access for Veterans: Does the Member support allowing V.A. doctors to write medical cannabis recommendations in states that have such programs?
Yes

Opioid Epidemic: Was the member receptive to using cannabis as a tool in the opioid epidemic?
Yes

State Issues and Policy Discussed:
Governor’s Race, Expansion of the State’s Medical Cannabis Program, concerns rec use legalization would have on medical, and ‘Program Participants Should Be Able To Use Medical Cannabis At Schools’
http://www.cannabisnewsjournal.co/2018/04/program-participants-should-be-able-to.html

US Senate - Hart Building 

Congressmember's name: Senator Tom Udall
https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/

*Provided a copy of: ‘Medical Cannabis in America: The Medical Cannabis Briefing Book’

Does the Member have a position on the CARERS Act?
Yes, supports CARERS and is a current Co-Sponsor

Ending Federal Interference: Does your Member support preventing the federal government from interfering with state medical cannabis programs?
Yes

Federal Barriers to Research: Does the Member support advancing medical cannabis research by eliminating the DEA-mandate “NIDA-monopoly” on federal research supplies of marijuana?
Yes

Removing CBD from the Controlled Substance Act: Does the Member support making CBD-rich products derived from cannabis legal to sell, possess, and transport without a physician’s recommendation?
Yes

Equal Access for Veterans: Does the Member support allowing V.A. doctors to write medical cannabis recommendations in states that have such programs?
Yes

Opioid Epidemic: Was the member receptive to using cannabis as a tool in the opioid epidemic?
Yes

State Issues and Policy Discussed:
Governor’s Race, Expansion of the State’s Medical Cannabis Program, concerns rec use legalization would have on medical, and ‘Program Participants Should Be Able To Use Medical Cannabis At Schools’
http://www.cannabisnewsjournal.co/2018/04/program-participants-should-be-able-to.html

US Senate - Hart Building

Congressmember's name: Senator Martin Heinrich
https://www.heinrich.senate.gov/

*Provided a copy of: ‘Medical Cannabis in America: The Medical Cannabis Briefing Book’

Does the Member have a position on the CARERS Act?
Yes, supports CARERS but not a co-sponsor

Ending Federal Interference: Does your Member support preventing the federal government from interfering with state medical cannabis programs?
Yes

Federal Barriers to Research: Does the Member support advancing medical cannabis research by eliminating the DEA-mandate “NIDA-monopoly” on federal research supplies of marijuana?
Yes

Removing CBD from the Controlled Substance Act: Does the Member support making CBD-rich products derived from cannabis legal to sell, possess, and transport without a physician’s recommendation?
Yes

Equal Access for Veterans: Does the Member support allowing V.A. doctors to write medical cannabis recommendations in states that have such programs?
Yes

Opioid Epidemic: Was the member receptive to using cannabis as a tool in the opioid epidemic?
Yes

State Issues and Policy Discussed:
Governor’s Race, Expansion of the State’s Medical Cannabis Program, concerns rec use legalization would have on medical, and ‘Program Participants Should Be Able To Use Medical Cannabis At Schools’
http://www.cannabisnewsjournal.co/2018/04/program-participants-should-be-able-to.html



Congressmember's name: Michelle Lujan Grisham
https://lujangrisham.house.gov/

*Provided a copy of: ‘Medical Cannabis in America: The Medical Cannabis Briefing Book’

Does the Member have a position on the CARERS Act?
Yes, supports CARERS and is current co-sponsor

Ending Federal Interference: Does your Member support preventing the federal government from interfering with state medical cannabis programs?
Yes

Federal Barriers to Research: Does the Member support advancing medical cannabis research by eliminating the DEA-mandate “NIDA-monopoly” on federal research supplies of marijuana?
Yes

Removing CBD from the Controlled Substance Act: Does the Member support making CBD-rich products derived from cannabis legal to sell, possess, and transport without a physician’s recommendation?
Yes

Equal Access for Veterans: Does the Member support allowing V.A. doctors to write medical cannabis recommendations in states that have such programs?
Yes

Opioid Epidemic: Was the member receptive to using cannabis as a tool in the opioid epidemic?
Yes

State Issues and Policy Discussed:
Governor’s Race, Expansion of the State’s Medical Cannabis Program, concerns rec use legalization would have on medical, and ‘Program Participants Should Be Able To Use Medical Cannabis At Schools’
http://www.cannabisnewsjournal.co/2018/04/program-participants-should-be-able-to.html


“We have made amazing progress in the last 16 years, but there will always be more work and improvements to make to meet our goals to help combat this crisis.” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, “For ASA, ensuring safe and legal access means that we keep fighting until ALL patients who would benefit from medical cannabis are allowed access to their medicine, without fear of losing any of their civil rights and protections granted to everyone else.”


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