Yesterday, I had the privilege to testify before the California Senate Health Committee about SJR 14, an ASA-sponsored resolution authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) calling for important changes to federal medical cannabis policy. The Committee voted 7-3 to approve the resolution. This is the first step in ASA’s effort to adopt SJR 14 and send a clear message to the President and Congress at strategic moment in time.
Here are my comments to the committee:
“Good afternoon, Senator Alquist and committee members. I am Don Duncan, the California Director of Americans for Safe Access, the nation’s largest organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.
ASA is sponsoring SJR 14 and is asking for your support because the United States stands at a historical crossroad on the issue of medical cannabis and the clear voice and guidance of the California legislature is essential now. The White House and the US Attorney General have signaled a willingness to develop a new federal policy on medical cannabis, but it remains unclear what that policy will look like. SJR 14 gives a very specific guidance to the Administration and to Congress at this strategic time.
This is important because until the federal law changes, legal patients and caregivers still face risk due to federal interference and intimidation, which stymie full implementation of our voter approved medical cannabis laws in California.
The guidance in SJR 14 is also crucial because current federal law does not allow legal patients to tell a federal jury that their conduct was legal under state law, nor does it serve to facilitate the advanced clinical trials into the efficacy and undiscovered benefits of medical cannabis for those suffering for HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, and other serious conditions.
Please support SJR 14 and help us send this message to Washington, DC. Thank you.”
SJR 14 goes next to the Senate Judiciary Committee, then on to the floor of the Senate for approval by the full body. The Assembly will also need to approve the resolution before we can make it part of our federal advocacy project in Washington, DC.
It is no accident that SJR 14 closely mirrors ASA’s National Policy Agenda, which we distributed to the President and Members of Congress after Inauguration Day. Our effort to adopt SJR 14 is part of a highly coordinated campaign to finally change federal medical cannabis law. It is very important that we have the official voice of the California Legislature while ASA works to build support for our agenda in Congress this summer.