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ASA’s Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program is now leading the development of international regulatory guidelines, presenting to public health officials and industry stakeholders around the globe, conducting trainings in the US and abroad, and partnering with the University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy on cannabis education.

PFC at Forefront of International Standards Development

ASA’s effort to set scientifically sound standards for cannabis safety and quality has found new partners and gone international. ASA’s Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program is now leading the development of international regulatory guidelines, presenting to public health officials and industry stakeholders around the globe, conducting trainings in the US and abroad, and partnering with the University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy on cannabis education.

Spearheading the effort is ASA’s chief scientist Jahan Marcu, PhD, in his role as a director of the PFC program. Just this past month, Dr. Marcu has crisscrossed the globe collaborating with doctors, scientists and public health officials from Spain to Israel to Mexico and back, plus conducting trainings in Ohio and Florida.

In Spain, PFC certified the country’s first cannabis distributor, worked with a doctor’s office, and conducted a weeklong training attended by representatives from 10 countries.

In Mexico, Dr. Marcu (pictured at right with patients and advocates in Mexico City) met with officials from the Department of Health and presented a talk on medical cannabis at the invitation of the national institute of pediatrics. PFC is translating ASA’s educational materials into Spanish and will be training the country’s health officials through the Cannabis Care Certification program on how to draft and implement sound regulation. PFC has also been asked to work with the governor’s office in Mexico City on drafting health and safety guidelines.

In Israel, Dr. Marcu made two presentations to Cann10, the second international medical cannabis conference in Tel Aviv. The focus there is on matching cannabis varieties to individual patients based on matching human genetics to plants. PFC’s Cannabis Care Certification will be training physicians in Israel, and manufacturing companies there have applied to PFC for certification.

In the U.S., PFC has been offering webinars and in-person trainings, including a CME event in Orlando, Florida for health care professionals and a training in Ohio. Dr. Marcu was also invited to speak about the PFC program at the American Public Health Laboratory conference last month. He will be speaking about the endocannabinoid system this month at the Cannabis World Congress and Expo in New York and presenting on international cultivation standards this month as part of the annual meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS), held this year in Montreal, Quebec.

PFC’s role in developing regulatory guidance will be central, as Dr. Marcu is chairing the ASTM subcommittee of 50 experts developing standards for education and training and criteria for regulatory assessment. These standards will determine how the cannabis industry will function – who gets licenses, who gets trained and how.

PFC’s new partnership with the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy launches next week at PFCtraining.org. This will be the only cannabis training program available through a university online for credit. Going forward, the University of Maryland will be conducting educational trainings, while Dr. Marcu and the PFC staff will handle regulatory issues and compliance.

PFC webinars are being run about every two weeks. Some are free, and those with fees are available to patients on a sliding scale. Interested patients should email PFC ahead of the webinar they’d like to attend.

PFC began with a collaborative effort with the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), but the international nature of medical cannabis research and development has transformed it into a global project.


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DEA Removes Marijuana Misinformation from Website After Months of Public, Legal Pressure


February 13, 2017 | Anna Zuccaro

Americans for Safe Access Says Not Good Enough, Still in Violation of IQA

WASHINGTON DC — After months of public pressure, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has removed factually inaccurate information from its website. The change comes after Americans for Safe Access, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring safe and legal access to medical cannabis for therapeutic use and research, filed a legal request with the Department of Justice last year demanding that the DEA immediately update and remove factually inaccurate information about cannabis from their website and materials.

Americans for Safe Access argued that the more than 25 false statements on the DEA’s website about cannabis constituted a violation of the Information Quality Act (IQA, aka Data Quality Act) which requires that administrative agencies not provide false information to the public and that they respond to requests for correction of information within 60 days.

One publication, “Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana”, contained 23 of the 25 factual inaccuracies in violation of the Information Quality Act. Such inaccuracies included claims that cannabis was a gateway drug, caused irreversible cognitive decline in adults, and contributed to psychosis and lung cancer.

“The DEA’s removal of these popular myths about cannabis from their website could mean the end of the Washington gridlock” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access. “This is a victory for medical cannabis patients across the nation, who rely on cannabis to treat serious illnesses. The federal government now admits that cannabis is not a gateway drug, and doesn’t cause long-term brain damage, or psychosis. While the fight to end stigma around cannabis is far from over, this is a big first step.”

But the fight is not over. As of February 13th, the government is one week beyond the required deadline to respond to the Americans for Safe Access’ legal petition and the group claims that the DEA is still spreading false information about cannabis.

“We are pleased that in the face of our request the DEA withdrew some of the damaging misinformation from its website” said Vickie Feeman, of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. “However, the DEA continues to disseminate many damaging facts about the health risks of medical cannabis and patients across the country face ongoing harm as a result of these alternative facts. We are hopeful the DEA will also remove the remaining statements rather than continue to mislead the public in the face of the scientifically proven benefits of medical cannabis.”

“If the DEA does not take the necessary action to comply with the binding time lines in the IQA, petitioners can always seek an intervention by OMB as the Department of Justice so informed the court in W. Harkonen v. USDOJ or in the courts as demonstrated in Prime Time v. USDA” stated Jim Tozzi, the father of the Information Quality Act and member of ASA’s Patient Focused Certification Reviewboard.

Americans for Safe Access argues that correcting false information about cannabis is especially important now that the Department of Justice is led by newly-confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions has been a staunch supporter of the DEA and cites their publications and opinions about marijuana to justify his opposition to medical cannabis policy reform. Today, Americans for Safe Access delivered a letter to the DEA explaining:

“It is crucial that the DEA correct it’s inaccurate statements, especially in light of Senator Jeff Sessions’  confirmation as Attorney General of the United States.  Attorney General Sessions has made several statements demonstrating his beliefs that cannabis is a gateway drug and that its psychological effects are permanent.  These beliefs are verifiably false, as confirmed by the DEA in its “Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana.”[1]  As the top law enforcement official in the nation, Mr. Sessions must have access to accurate information based on current scientific data in order to make informed decisions regarding the enforcement (or non-enforcement) of federal drug laws.  Allowing Mr. Sessions to make law enforcement decisions based on biased, out-of-date information does a tremendous disservice to ASA’s members and the American people at large. Therefore, ASA respectfully requests that the DEA respond to its Request, and/or remove the remaining inaccurate statements from its website.”

For more information, or for interviews with Americans for Safe Access, please contact Anna Zuccaro at anna@unbendablemedia.com, 914-523-9145

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German Government Medical Marijuana Job Openings ……….yes, that is true :)


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ASA Petition Demands DEA Correct Misinformation About Cannabis


ASA took legal action this month to compel the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to immediately correct misinformation about cannabis. The petition filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) cites 25 violations by the DEA of the Information Quality Act, the federal law that requires administrative agencies to ensure the “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information” they distribute.

Among those 25 violations are inaccurate statements about cannabis on the DEA website, as well as ongoing claims that misrepresent the efficacy of medical cannabis and its risks. Some of the claims challenged by ASA’s petition have been refuted by the DEA itself in its recent “Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana,” issued August 12, 2016.

“For years, the DEA has published scientifically inaccurate information about the health effects of medical cannabis, directly influencing the action—and inaction—of Congress,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “Our request is simple: The DEA must change its public information to better comport with its own expressed views, so that Congress has access to the appropriate tools to make informed decisions about public health. Alternatively, ASA requests that the DEA simply remove the inaccurate statements or the documents in their entirety.”

The petition, ASA’s second such challenge to government claims about cannabis, was prepared with unpaid assistance from the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

“We have taken this action to stop the DEA’s relentless campaign of misinformation about the health risks of medical cannabis in its tracks,” said Vickie Feeman, an attorney with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. “We are proud to represent Americans for Safe Access pro bono in this matter to protect the rights of patients throughout the country who could be harmed – and have already been harmed – by the DEA’s refusal to not only acknowledge the scientifically proven benefits of medical cannabis, but also its deliberate attempt to inflate and publicly misrepresent the facts about the potential harms of cannabis use.”

ASA argues that the DEA’s presentation of scientifically unfounded information diminishes the utility of accurate information and can jeopardize public health. The inaccurate information makes it difficult for public officials and medical providers to make informed decisions regarding the viability of medical cannabis treatment options.

More information:
The ASA IQA petition
Information on the IQA
Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana
DEA’s The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse
DEA’s Drugs of Abuse
DOJ Information Quality Guidelines