The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease…
Americans for Safe Access: Defending Patients Access to Medical Marijuana
As the sun set on the fourth Tuesday in March, a seemingly irrelevant detail that will become relevant shortly, I pulled up in front of Elijah’s Restaurant on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard in San Diego, California. This restaurant, excuse me, delicatessen is where San Diego Americans for Safe Access (ASA) rendezvous every fourth Tuesday of the month. The ASA is a non-profit organization with a mantra that holds true to their namesake: Defending Patients’ Access to Medical Marijuana.
The theme of the evening was simple: persistence, persistence, persistence! Whether the discussion was about:
- New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s reclassification of marijuana under Federal Law
- The new piece of California legislation, AB-2069
- The CPRA or the California Public Records Act
- Democrat Bryan Pease running for City Council
We will systematically go through each main point and discuss the relevance to medical marijuana and how you can use this information to be proactive in your community!
First up was the reclassification of marijuana under Federal Law. This topic was only discussed briefly at this months meeting, but I believe it warrants a quick review due to its significance. This reclassification would mean that marijuana would no longer be bundled up with other Schedule I drugs such as heroin, LSD and methamphetamine. Fortunately, the Johnny-come-latelies of the world are noticing the potential of cannabis. This is due in large part to the ongoing efforts of many activists, scholars, and doctors. On the eve of 420, the New York Times published a report stating that a Food and Drug Administration panel is recommending the “approval of an epilepsy medication made with an ingredient found in marijuana.” Locally, San Diego State University is holding a forum on the role cannabis plays in the ongoing “Opioid Epidemic” that is plaguing our nation. The issue has been gaining traction, but only because the squeaky wheel gets the grease…
Next, we discussed Assembly Bill No. 2069 (AB-2069), a piece of legislation that is also of significant importance, albeit on a smaller scale. This bill would make it:
“unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment or otherwise penalize a person if the discrimination is based upon the person’s status as a qualified patient or person with an identification card entitled to the protections of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 or a positive drug test for cannabis by or the use of cannabis by those persons for medical purposes…”
This bill does not protect the patient from using cannabis or being medicated on the premises! A rule responsible MMJ patients have no problem following. The squeaky wheel is getting the grease…
The third main point was discussed by one of the special guests for the evening, Abenicio Cisneros, a lawyer who is an expert on the California Public Records Act (CPRA). An act that empowers the public by giving them access to certain information. He gave a concise explanation of how it works by stressing three main points (honestly, I just really like making lists):
- The importance of persistence (the squeaky wheel gets the grease!)
- If you have to sue to get the records, its probably easier than you think!
Rather than go into each point one-by-one, I am going to give an example. Let’s say you have just won the lottery and want to open up a dispensary in your hometown in California. For our purposes, we will assume this city does not already have a plethora of dispensaries (lol). While going through all the hoops and ladders necessary to open up a shop you get a call from the city saying that because of the crime in your desired area, they did not approve your request. Well, thanks to the CPRA you have the power to request all of the service calls to your desired area that led to this decision. This is where part 2 comes in to play. They have to give you the information within a reasonable amount of time (it is the government so their definition of a reasonable amount of time with probably be different from your definition) which may require…you guessed it! Persistence, persistence, persistence! The squeaky wheel gets…oh you get the idea! Finally, sometimes the government will beat around the bush (never, not our government) and require the next legal step to be taken, which would be to sue. Suing someone obviously comes with its own hassles so do your research. If all else fails, hire Abenicio Cisneros!
The fourth and final topic was less of a topic and more of an advertisement. Do not take that the wrong way because I am all for a politician with the interest of the people (especially those who par-toke…err… I mean partake) in mind. Bryan Pease may be the solution! He is a public interest lawyer currently running for City Council. He stated, “rather than fighting for the public interest one case at a time, I believe I can be more effective working for our community as the next District 2 City Councilmember.” Anyone who wants to be the metaphorical “Voice of the People” while simultaneously having sound moral values and goals should be supported! Bryan Pease for City Council!
While not everyone reading this has lived or currently lives in District 2, I believe this is a great opportunity to once again bring up the theme of this blog post. The only way anything has ever been accomplished (well, anything significant) in the history of humanity is by persistence! We are in the midst of a revolution in California. The GREEN RUSH is here and if we are going to cement our legacy as the foot soldiers of this movement we need to be the squeaky wheel!
– Johnny T.