Jessica: I wear multiple hats. I am an associate at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nations leading organization promoting health based alternatives in drug policy, and I own my own company, CannAssist.com.
Tropical420: Wow! My MMJ doctor even uses CannAssist.com so collectives are able to verify me quickly. How did you become involved with the medical cannabis community?
Jessica: I was at a cross-roads in 2005 when Los Angeles suddenly became a hot medical cannabis frontier and it made a lot of sense to me to become active socially and politically. The first thing I did was to attend task force meetings in West Hollywood while the city regulations were created.
Tropical420: That’s awesome you’ve been an active MMJ advocate for six years. How do you give back to the community now?
Jessica: CannAssist gives back naturally by providing medical patients the means to confirm their qualified status. That is the main reason I started my company. Once you have a physician’s recommendation to use cannabis you are afforded certain rights, as in the right to posses an otherwise illegal material, but even with your recommendation on your person, law enforcement often want a second form of proof. California medical cannabis state I.D.s are costly and are not required and when I started my company they also were only available in 11 of 58 counties. The reason state law includes a voluntary ID program is to protect patients rights. An online record of your medical cannabis recommendation on CannAssist serves the same need. We also support Americans for Safe Access, grassroots medical cannabis advocacy foundation.
Tropical420: That is so amazing that you have created a way for patients to provide online verification of their MMJ recommendations, your site has helped the community a lot. Are you active in the MMJ community? Do you go to the protests and attend the city council meetings about it?
Jessica: Yes I am active, and I have attended more city council meetings than I can count! My work is mostly behind the scenes, and I haven’t been very vocal, but that is changing. At Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) my current work has more general focus. The campaign I am actively working on is “Mom’s United to End the War on Drugs” http://www.facebook….125162887532951 – this is a Facebook Group of ‘mothers and others’ speaking out about the collateral damage of the drug war on our families and society. We have a goal of 1000 members by New Years Eve 2010. Right now we have 666 members. It would mean a lot if weedtrackers would become members by checking out our facebook page!
Tropical420: Sweet! I just became a member too! What is your favorite strain to medicate with?
Jessica: It all depends what effect I desire. Diesels are good for me, Kush varieties, Jack Herer, and Strawberry Cough.
Tropical420: Nice, I love the Kush! Do you prefer Indica or Sativa?
Jessica: Both are wonderful for different things and people. If I had to choose, I would say indica varieties are my favorite, but I use them less because they are likely to make me drowsy. Truth is most strains are hybridized. Kush is a good example of a balanced high-brid. The quick flowering cycle and popularity growing of the plant has created more strains than we can really keep track of now. That is why there is a great interest in scientific lab tests these days. We have a lot of great work to do looking at the chemical make-up of existing varieties, surveying how they affect people, and making comparisons. I am really excited for this kind of data to be collected and analyzed.
Tropical420: Yes, they are doing really cool things testing different strains now, very cool stuff! Do you make your own edibles?
Jessica: Once in a while, usually our family banana bread recipe because it bakes at 270 degrees. The molecules in Cannabis start to melt around 330 degrees which will change them.
Tropical420: Wow, I would love to steal that recipe! What is your favorite munchie food?
Jessica: Xocai chocolates (available at PureLifeAlternative) are my ULTIMATE healthy treat. Although Pure Life carries them, they are not medicated. You have to try a box. It may revolutionize your life! I also love cereal, Heritage flakes or hot steel-cut oatmeal with blueberries and almond milk and a little maple syrup.
Tropical420: Sounds yummy! Do you have pets?
Jessica: Yes, my beloved mutt, pitty grey-hound cross.
Tropical420: Awe, so cute! Do you wear hemp?
Jessica: Of course! I am really looking forward to the day it’s as common as cotton. I like the bamboo fabrics too. I’d love to wear bamboo hemp blends daily.
Tropical420: I look forward to that day too! I can tell you that Hemp Bamboo blended fabrics exist and I have seen it in a jersey knit and hope to incorporate it into future clothing lines! What is your preferred way to medicate? Bong, joint, edible, vaporizer?
Jessica: A clean glass pipe. I can moderate my intake, to get just the right amount. I keep alcohol and q-tips handy in the kitchen and clean it after nearly every bowl. It has straight sides so it is super easy to clean. I would like to switch to glycerin tinctures though. I am still making the transition.
Tropical420: Awesome choice! Do you think medical marijuana will be federally legalized one day?
Jessica: Yes. It’s not longer a matter of ‘if’ it will be legalized, it is a matter of when. But the moment for federal legalization is not here yet so we take one step at a time. Hopefully the experiences we’ve had here will help others create legitimate, safe, and affordable access recognized and respected by their state and local governments more easily.
Tropical420: That’s a reassuring answer. What are your thoughts about the recent injunction made by Judge Mohr in Los Angeles? What else needs to be done in order to fix the city councils issue with collectives?
Jessica: Judge Mohr gave a pretty fair opinion on a very complicated subject and as far as having access all across town I think this injunction is a good thing for patients. The lawsuit is brought by Plaintiffs who are operating medical cannabis collectives in LA who received official letters and were ordered by the City to close, as well as a class of patients. Judge Mohr took a fine tooth comb to the Ordinance and teased a lot of it out, giving the City some simple solutions to enact that would make the Ordinance legally abiding and sound. He struck down two parts pre-emptied by state law;
1) The Ordinance sought to criminalize certain activities which the CUA and MMPA explicitly state are immune to prosecution for a certain category of people (qualified patients and caregivers).
2) The Sunset Clause which stated that in two years, if the city did not re-approve the regulations all collectives were required to immediately cease and desist.
Both of these are great news for patients and operators. The opinion affirms that the California Use Act (CUA) and the Medical Marijuana Program Act (MMPA) confers qualified patients and caregivers the legal right to possess and cultivate marijuana for medical purposes. Since these rights are permitted by state law a local government cannot criminalize these activities for this category of people. Yay!
The second strike down is great when Judge Mohr used the same argument to eliminate the “Sunset Clause”, which would have assessed criminal fines and penalties. That is a relief because that deadline would have been here quick and the mess would have gotten even deeper! Right now, I feel like the mud is at our ankles – not great, but workable. Mohr said some other positive things too, like he thinks “a blanket-ban goes too far and contradicts the MMPA.” That is important because of the rash of cities banning medical marijuana collectives outright.
Then he moved on to Privacy rights. As written the Ordinance violates informational rights of people who are members of the collective because there were no safe-guards in place, and the police actually spoke to the fact that they would run names in the criminal database. The judge’s response was heartening, he said that people who have criminal records are also allowed to use medical marijuana and they should not have their rights abridged. Privacy issues are very important to me, and this is an area of the Ordinance I find disturbing. The great thing is that fixes can be pretty simple, if the police respect that they cannot seize that information without special handling instructions from the Attorney General.
Judge Mohr’s instructions to the City Council about how to amend the Ordinance are straightforward. I really hope they just do what he says, then we can move on to the other issues and get things sorted out so that community can stabilize. For now all collectives in the city are free to operate. The next court date is January 7th, 2011 when the responses will be heard. In the end the judge indicated that this case has a high probability of heading to the appellate level.
Tropical420: My hat is off to this judge as well for having the balls to stand up to the LA city council. I hope they don’t appeal his fair ruling. Seriously, to shut them down without a court hearing and demand info without a warrant was unconstitutional and would never have happened to any other business in any other industry. What are your future plans to help this community achieve it’s ultimate goals for this harmless medicinal plant?
Jessica: I am blessed to be in a position where many things I do on a daily basis in some way serves to usher this brilliant plant to it’s rightful place in the center of culture. CannAssist will continue to serve patients and help protect their rights. We also plan to improve the site’s value for patients to help answer questions and provide geographically relevant resources. Ultimately, I’d love to engage the medical marijuana community by participating in survey research. I am developing that concept now. It’s something that Dr. Allan Frankel and I have talked about at length. He is very interested in the dosage, effect, and analyzation of the chemical make-up of different varieties of marijuana.
At Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), in the immediate future, my plans are to help create the best biannual International Drug Policy Reform Conference (http://www.reformconference.org/) ever! Mark your calendars now because it happening November 2-5, 2011- in downtown Los Angeles!! An entire section of the conference is devoted to marijuana – I encourage activists to submit proposals in January here: http://www.reformcon…call-proposals. This is an international conference, with a big scope. I really want the medical marijuana home team to rep’ LA hard! We are also seeking sponsors and exhibitors; interested parties can contact me at DPA for more information here: 213-382-6400.
Tropical420: Nice, sounds like an amazing plan and we’ll be sure to check that out! Thank you so much for this interview, for continuing to be an inspiration to many, and for your active presence in this medical marijuana community! Everyone should check out CannAssist.com
© 2011 Tropical420.com