By the roots

HERBWISE: Everything you need to know about cannabis in 2012, from the headlines you missed to a one-stop activist app

Advocacy group Americans for Safe Access brings breaking bud news to you.

HERBWISE Where (besides this column, of course) do you get the latest on marijuana? When it comes to distributing accurate information about buds, Steph Sherer, executive director of medical cannabis advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), makes no bones about her organization's role. "Most of our members depend on us for news," she told the Guardian in a recent phone interview.

Even when clashes between marijuana proponents and the government are brought to light — not always a given in this political climate — Sherer finds the one note handling of cannabis issues by the mainstream media troubling. "[Cannabis] gets thrown on [journalists covering] judicial beats instead of getting picked up by the human interest, or the health and science side of things," she said.

ASA's response to this dearth of useful reporting on cannabis was to develop a free iPhone application that serves as a media catch-all for medical marijuana advocates. At no cost, anyone concerned with losing their right to access their medicine safely — or who wants to learn the latest about the sticky green — can now download an interface that pulls together news updates, alerts for upcoming political actions, and materials that can add to one's activism repertoire; things like phone numbers for legal counsel and advocacy training videos.

For Sherer, the app has the potential to empower the people in the crossfire of the ongoing clashes between the federal government and state-legal growing and retail facilities: patients. "We are creating a platform that empowers people to be their own advocate. The people who can advocate for this the best are the people who are affected." 


1. In March, the National Cancer Institute recognized marijuana's medical benefit, classifying it as a "complementary alternative medicine." Days later, the reference was diluted on its website, per the recommendation of the National Institutes on Drug Abuse.

2. After Obama's Justice Department fought their appeal, Californian breast cancer survivor Dr. Mollie Frye and her husband were sent to prison in April for five years because of their state-legal growing operation.

3. In October, California patient advocates sued the Obama Administration for violating the 10th Amendment by coercing and obstructing local and state officials, preventing them from implementing medical marijuana laws.

4. The governors of Washington State and Rhode Island petitioned the federal government to reschedule cannabis to allow for medical use.

5. In Connecticut and New Jersey, governors continue to move forward with cannabis access legislation despite threats from US Attorneys.

6. 63-year old Norman Smith uses cannabis to mitigate the symptoms of his inoperable liver cancer. Smith is being denied a transplant from Los Angeles' Cedar Sinai Medical Center until he agrees to stop using cannabis.


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