The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

ASA Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson 510-388-0546 or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes 510-681-6361

Medical Marijuana Is Focus of National League of Cities Webcast Thursday

Patient advocates explain benefits of and need for local distribution and regulation


The National League of Cities (NLC) will hold its
first medical marijuana live webcast Thursday at 2pm EST, to address
the increasing need by local governments to study and address this
important public health issue. The NLC Finance, Administration and
Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR) Committee intends to host a series
of medical marijuana webcasts on its Internet TV channel. Caren
Woodson, the Government Affairs Director with the patient advocacy
group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), will discuss the benefits of
medical marijuana for hundreds of thousands of Americans and the need
for localized distribution in states that permit its use. Woodson will
square off with Ron Brooks, president of the National Narcotics
Officers' Associations' Coalition, and engage with webcast participants
for a Q&A session.

"In some states, medical marijuana distribution is regulated at the
state level," said Woodson. "But, most medical marijuana distribution
happens at the local level and requires local governments to be
involved in its implementation." States like California, Colorado,
Michigan, Montana, Oregon and Washington are all grappling with
localized medical marijuana distribution, whereas state like Maine, New
and Rhode Island regulate distribution at the state level. The states
that are currently considering laws that would regulate medical
marijuana distribution include Iowa,
Kansas, Maryland and Wisconsin.

Medical marijuana distribution facilities began to proliferate after
the Obama Justice Department issued a policy in October 2009
discouraging federal enforcement against such state-compliant
facilities. This change in political landscape has also prompted local
governments to increasingly grapple with the issue. In a cash-strapped
economy, local officials are also looking for ways to generate revenue
and the taxation of medical marijuana is being strongly considered by a
number of cities. California already imposes a sales tax on medical
marijuana and receives more than $100 million in annual revenue. And,
in November the Colorado Attorney General said that medical marijuana
was subject to sales tax, prompting several local governments in
Colorado to adopt new tax laws.

"The elements of a safe, reliable and affordable distribution plan for
medical marijuana are fairly basic," continued Woodson. "Local
regulations mostly deal with land use issues and meeting the needs of
both patients and community members alike." Despite law enforcement
claims of increased crime around medical marijuana distribution sites,
ASA has found that regulations effectively decrease crime. After
conducting a study of California cities with local regulations, ASA
reported in January 2010 that high tech security systems and vigilance
on the part of medical marijuana distributors have reduced or
eliminated crime and nuisance activity around such facilities. Los
Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck conducted his own study and found
that, "banks are more likely to get robbed than medical marijuana
dispensaries," and the claim that dispensaries attract crime "doesn't
really bear out."

ASA is a grassroots organization that works with local activists across
the country to help implement sensible medical marijuana distribution
laws, among many other policy objectives. The NLC calls itself "the
oldest and largest national organization representing municipal
governments throughout the United States," and its mission is "to
strengthen and promote cities as centers of opportunity, leadership,
and governance." The NLC works in partnership with 49 state municipal
leagues, and serves as a resource to and an advocate for the more than
19,000 cities, villages, and towns it represents.

Further Information:

The National League of Cities FAIR webcast page:

ASA Report on medical marijuana dispensary regulations:

Americans for Safe Access is 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.