Posted by Gary Storck
Thursday, July 9, 2015
Cannabadger's look at state medical cannabis program reciprocity.
Posted by Gary Storck
Friday, July 03, 2015
New from Cannabadger. Oregon patient numbers are surging from out of state patient registrations, including many from Wisconsin.
Posted by Gary Storck
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
The state of Wisconsin itself indicates there is a good potential to save money by decriminalizing cannabis.
New polling commissioned by Detroit News and WDIV has found that 56% of Michigan residents support an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis put forth by the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Committee (MCCLRC).
According to the poll, which was conducted by the Glengariff Group Inc., 56% of those in Michigan favor MCCLRC’s initiative to legalize cannabis, which advocates are hoping to place on next year’s general election ballot. The survey found just 36% opposed to the initiative, with 8% undecided.
MCCLRC’s initiative recently received approval from the state, giving advocates the go-ahead to begin collecting signatures in an attempt to place it on the 2016 presidential election ballot. A separate proposal, sponsored by the Michigan Cannabis Coalition, was also approved by the state.
MCCLRC’s initiative would legalize the possession and personal cultivation of cannabis, while also establishing cannabis retail outlets.
The post Poll: 56% of Michigan Residents Support Initiative to Legalize Recreational Cannabis appeared first on TheJointBlog.
By Drug Policy Alliance
ALBANY, NY — Monday night, in an unusual show of bipartisan support, the New York Senate voted 50 to 12 in favor of a bill, sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo, that directs the state to establish a program to help critically ill patients obtain emergency access to medical marijuana as soon as possible.
The Assembly version, sponsored by Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, passed last week by an overwhelming majority (130-18). The bill now goes to Governor Cuomo for his signature or veto.
The passage of this bill comes almost exactly one year after the legislature passed New York’s medical marijuana law and almost ten months after the Governor urged the Health Commissioner to do everything in his power to get medical marijuana to children suffering from life-threatening forms of epilepsy.
To date, not one patient has received medical marijuana, and at least four children, who might have benefited from medical marijuana, have died since the governor signed the bill last year.
“Even though we worked tirelessly to pass New York’s medical marijuana law, for the past year, my family and I have continued to watch Oliver suffer relentless, damaging seizures, all the while knowing that there is a medicine that could help him,” said Missy Miller of Atlantic Beach, whose son Oliver suffers from life-threatening seizures. “Every day we go without this medicine is a day that Oliver loses ground, every day we live with the risk of him dying from these seizures. I hope Governor Cuomo will finally step up, do the right thing, demonstrate some compassion, and sign this bill into law ASAP.”
The bill instructs the state to establish an emergency program for critically ill patients so that they can start receiving medical marijuana as quickly as possible. It also instructs the state to issue patient cards to critically ill patients who qualify as soon as possible making it clear that they are medical marijuana patients and affording them some protection from law enforcement and child protective services.
Recently, Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia swiftly signed a medical marijuana law to help children with severe epilepsy and announced the system should be up and running in the next 30 to 60 days. He went further and issued temporary patient cards to several families who had moved to other states as they awaited action so that they could return home with their medical marijuana without fear of being prosecuted. Governor Cuomo has insisted he cannot provide the same protections to New York families that Governor Deal provided to families in Georgia.
“Our daughter, Mackenzie, suffers from seizures all the time, and we are terrified that the next seizure could result in a fall that takes her life. Our entire family is constantly on guard,” said Julie Kulawy, a nurse and mother of a child with epilepsy from Mills, New York. “We are grateful that Senator Griffo introduced and that the senate passed the emergency medical marijuana access bill and hope that the Governor will sign it and give our little girl a chance at life.”
Since last July, advocates have been pressuring the Cuomo Administration to create an interim emergency access program for patients who may not survive the eighteen months or longer that the Governor has said he needs to get the full medical marijuana program up and running.
Almost a year later, while other states had moved quickly to provide medical marijuana to children with epilepsy, the Cuomo Administration has offered bureaucratic and legalistic excuses, but no progress. Desperate for action, parents and patients turned to the legislature for help.
“As a four-time cancer survivor I know that medical marijuana can, not only relieve suffering, but extend lives by making it possible to tolerate life-sustaining treatments,” said Nancy Rivera of Troy, NY. “People who are facing terminal illnesses, cannot wait much longer for relief. I hope Cuomo will have some compassion and sign this bill into law quickly.”
The original version of New York’s medical marijuana bill included a provision to provide emergency access to medical marijuana for those patients too ill to wait for the full program to become operational. The Governor’s Office had that provision removed during bill negotiations last year, leaving critically ill patients vulnerable. Among the most at risk are children with serve forms of epilepsy, a condition which medical marijuana seems to help alleviate. Since the bill was signed, four New York children, who sought medical marijuana, have died — three from seizure disorders and another brain cancer.
“I wanted my daughter Donella to have access to medical marijuana at the end of her life because I saw how it helped her,” said Nathan Nocero of Niagara Falls, whose daughter Donella died of brain cancer in December. “Unfortunately, because of the inaction of the Cuomo Administration, Donnie died without access to a medication that would have relieved her suffering. I just hope they act now so that other children who are suffering can find relief.”
In a strange twist, Senator Diane Savino of the Independent Democratic Caucus, who sponsored the original medical marijuana legislation, including a version of the bill that provided for emergency access, argued and voted against the bill, as did her entire caucus. In doing so, she repeated many of the same arguments as the Cuomo Administration about why they have failed to take action to save the lives of New Yorkers. But Sen. Savino’s disappointing opposition couldn’t stop the wave of support from Republicans and Democrats alike.
“I am thrilled that Senators from both sides of the aisle cast a vote for New York’s critically ill children, like my daughter Morgan,” said Kate Hintz of North Salem. “We’ve been asking the Cuomo Administration for access to medical marijuana for months to help Morgan, and finally, after endless delays and excuses from the Governor’s office, the legislature has taken action.”
The emergency access program would operate until the full medical marijuana system was up and running. Applications for producers were just submitted on June 5th, and the earliest the full program would be operational is January 2016.
“Too many people have suffered and died waiting for action by the Cuomo Administration,” said Julie Netherland, PhD, deputy state director at the Drug Policy Alliance. “Yesterday’s vote was a huge victory for patients and families across New York. Two years in a row, legislators – Republican and Democrats alike– have supported access to medical marijuana for patients with serious illnesses. Now the Governor has the opportunity to do the right thing by signing this bill into law and getting help to our sickest and most vulnerable citizens. It’s the right thing to do.”
The post New York Legislature Passes Medical Cannabis Emergency Access Bill appeared first on TheJointBlog.
A new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry, and funded by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, shows no significant difference in adolescent cannabis use in the states that have legalized medical use of the substance.
This comprehensive study examined 24 years of data from over a million teenagers in 48 states, and found absolutely no evidence that legalized medical cannabis has led to teenagers using cannabis at higher rates.
“Our findings provide the strongest evidence to date that marijuana use by teenagers does not increase after a state legalizes medical marijuana”, says Deborah Hasin, Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, who reviewed data on teenagers between the ages of 13-18, during the years 1991-2014. “Rather, up to now, in the states that passed medical marijuana laws, adolescent marijuana use was already higher than in other states. Because early adolescent use of marijuana can lead to many long term harmful outcomes, identifying the factors that actually play a role in adolescent use should be a high priority”.
This study supports a 2013 report from the Colorado Department of Health and Environment that found that high school cannabis use actually decreased from in 2011 (22%) compared to 2013 (20%).
The report speculates that legalizing medical marijuana may send the message to teens that the substance isn’t dangerous and probably won’t be very harmful, potentially leading to less “rebellious teenagers” wanting to use the substance.
The full study can be found by clicking here.
The post Government Funded Study: Legalized Medical Cannabis Doesn’t Increase Teen Usage appeared first on TheJointBlog.
The executive committee of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, located in South Dakota, voted 5 to 1 last week to legalize recreational cannabis. Trustee Roxee Johnson was sole “No” vote.
The proposal establishing a cannabis production facility, and a separate cannabis retail outlet, which will distribute cannabis to anyone 21 and older, not just members of the tribe. The measure also authorizes a location where cannabis can be safely and legally consumed, similar to a bar.
In December, U.S. Justice Department released a memorandum to U.S. attorneys requesting that they allow Native Americans to grow and sell cannabis on their own sovereign lands, even in states that don’t allow it.
The post South Dakota Tribe Votes to Legalize Cannabis Possession and Distribution appeared first on TheJointBlog.
Many observers were shocked and saddened when Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic who is authorized to use medical marijuana under Colorado state law, was fired from his job with Dish Network in 2010 after a positive drug test. Dish failed to make an exception for Coats, who used marijuana while off duty to control his seizures, and the company insisted on his being fired, leaving Coats no choice but to challenge this issue in court.
Specifically, Coats claimed that his conduct should have been permitted under the state’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute, which makes it an unfair and discriminatory labor practice to discharge an employee based on the employee’s “lawful,” away-from-work activities. But the trial court, followed by the Court of Appeals and now the Colorado Supreme Court, have all ruled that the statute only protects conduct that is legal under both state and federal law — and therefore offers no job protection to Coats.
“Therefore, employees who engage in an activity, such as medical marijuana use, that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute,” Justice Allison H. Eid wrote in the opinion.
This case highlights one of the most pressing issues that needs to be addressed in the states that have legalized medical cannabis use — and the states that have adopted full legalization for all adults, as well. Although employees are protected from arrest and prosecution under state law by these various laws, they remain vulnerable to employment discrimination in almost all states.
Simply put, if an employer wants to insist on what they frequently call a “drug-free workplace,” they are legally permitted to do that — regardless of the unfairness this policy may cause, because we must note that they do not apply those same standards to off-job alcohol consumption or the use of prescription drugs.
Most Americans would strongly support the right of an employer to fire anyone who comes to work in an impaired condition. But smoking marijuana leaves one mildly impaired only for about an hour and a half; certainly smoking marijuana in the evening, or on the weekend, would have no impact on the employee who comes to work the following day.
Effort renewed to add PTSD to Colorado medical marijuana list
(Craig F. Walker, Denver Post file)
What we really need is for employers in these legalized states to become responsible corporate citizens and to do the right thing: Stop penalizing employees, absent a showing of impairment on the job. But absent that voluntary shift in policy, the obligation is now on those of us who favor marijuana legalization to go back to the state legislatures in states that have legalized cannabis, either for medical use or for all adults, and enact appropriate job protections for those who use marijuana legally under state law.
Before being allowed to fire an employee who tests positive for THC, the employer must be required to demonstrate on-the-job impairment. Just as we do not permit someone to be fired for reason of their gender, religion or race, neither should we permit an employee to be fired simply because they elect to use marijuana legally under state law, without a showing of actual on-job impairment.
Otherwise we are requiring many medical-use patients to choose between relieving their pain and suffering and keeping their employment. And we are allowing employers to fire good, hard-working, loyal employees for off-the-job activities that are totally unrelated to their job performance.
And that is simply unfair, and it cannot be allowed to stand. So let’s get to work and fix this problem.
Keith Stroup is an attorney, author of “It’s NORML to Smoke Pot: The 40-year Fight for Marijuana Smokers’ Rights” and founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, where he serves as legal counsel.
Colorado Supreme Court: Employees Can Be Fired For Marijuana Use, Even Medical, Even If Off The Clock
Members of the Colorado Supreme Court have unanimously affirmed lower courts’ rulings that employers possess the authority to fire employees for their off-the-job use of marijuana. The Court found that the plant’s legal status under state law does not make the act of consuming cannabis “lawful” under the state’s Lawful Off-Duty Activities Statute.
The Justices opined, “The supreme court holds that under the plain language of section 24-34-402.5, C.R.S. (2014), Colorado’s ‘lawful activities statute,’ the term ‘lawful’ refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law. Therefore, employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by the statute.”
The ruling upholds the decision by Dish Network in 2010 to fire employee Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic who used cannabis to treat muscle spasticity. Coats failed a random urine screen. Such tests identify the presence of the inert metabolite (byproduct) carboxy-THC, which may be present in urine for weeks or even months after one has ceased using the substance. Consequently, the Justice Department acknowledges, “A positive test result, even when confirmed, only indicates that a particular substance is present in the test subject’s body tissue. It does not indicate abuse or addiction; recency, frequency, or amount of use; or impairment.”
The Colorado decision mirrors those of courts in California, Oregon, and Washington — each of which similarly determined that state laws exempting marijuana consumers from criminal liability do not extend to civil protections in the workplace.
According to a study published last year in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, employees who test positive for carboxy-THC do not possess an elevated risk of workplace accident compared to employees who test negative.
Full text of the decision, Coats v. Dish Network, is here.
A study published recently by the American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Urology, and published online by the National Institute of Health, has found CB1R (cannabinoid receptor type 1) activiation, which occurs naturally through the consumption of cannabis, can treat pain arising from cystitis (urinary tract infection).
For the study, researchers “investigated the capacity of… a cannabinoid-1 receptor (CB1R) agonist, to inhibit referred hyperalgesia and increased bladder contractility resulting from acute acrolein-induced cystitis in rats.”
They found, after conducting a series of tests, that the findings “suggest that pain arising from cystitis may be inhibited by activation of spinal CB1R”.
The full text of the study, conducted by researchers at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the University of Wisconsin Madison, can be found by clicking here.
The post Study: Cannabis Can Treat Pain Caused by Urinary Tract Infection appeared first on TheJointBlog.
Two recent developments illustrate the progress we have made towards ending marijuana prohibition, and the new challenges we face as we push forward into this Brave New World of legalized weed.
In a handful of states, instead of worrying about whether those who grow marijuana will be arrested and jailed, we have the luxury of worrying about such things as whether the marijuana was sprayed with unhealthy pesticides during the cultivation process, and how to minimize the impact the odor from marijuana cultivation sites may have on the neighbors.
Let’s start with the pesticide issue.
One of the principal public health advantages that legalization brings is the ability to require that marijuana be tested by a certified lab before it is sold, assuring the consumer that it is free from potentially harmful insecticides and pesticides. At NORML, as a consumer lobby, this is something we have always supported, but so long as marijuana remained illegal, those protections were impossible to implement. In fact, in states where marijuana prohibition remains intact, any laboratory that tested the product would be risking criminal prosecution for possession and conspiring to sell marijuana. And any elected official, when confronted with this suggestion, would have laughed us out of their office. There is simply no mechanism for assuring the safety or purity of illegal substances, so legalization is a necessary precursor.
But now that marijuana is fully legal in four states; fully decriminalized in Washington, DC; and legalized for some version of medical use in 37 states, this common-sense step to assure the product is safe is feasible.
Breaking with their traditional position that so long as marijuana remains illegal under federal law, they would not provide guidance as to which pesticides and insecticides were safe for marijuana, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced they are offering a process under which certain pesticides could be approved for use on marijuana, in those states that now permit legal marijuana use for medical purposes, or for all adults.
This has already surfaced as an issue in Colorado, where the state has reportedly quarantined tens of thousands of marijuana plants because of concerns the crop was doused in harmful chemicals. Without some guidance from the EPA, the licensed growers are caught between their need to protect against infestations such as spider mites, powdery mildew and root rot, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost inventory; and the demands of state regulators and the public for a safe product. Concerned consumers have begun picketing certain retail outlets in CO, claiming they are putting their customers at risk because of their use of pesticides, and advocating for the use of organic pest controls.
This new process announced by the EPA appears to offer a relatively quick process for legal growers to learn which pesticides are safe for use on marijuana, and which are not. The director of the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Division of Plant Industry has called this regulatory shift “a huge step forward for the EPA, the industry and us. It allows us to move forward in a very normal manner on pesticides for marijuana, just like any other crop.” An important step towards NORMLization of marijuana.
Next, let’s consider the problem with marijuana odor potentially effecting the quality of life of the neighbors.
Some contentiousness between marijuana growers and their neighbors has been simmering for some time, even under prohibition, but with the advance of full legalization, those problems are gaining more attention. And different jurisdictions are dealing with this problem differently.
In Oregon, a state with a “right to farm” statute, farmers are protected from nuisance complaints that might arise because of “customary noises, smells, dust or other nuisances associated with farming.” But that has not kept some neighbors from complaining, and some are asking that growers be required to have a set-back from the adjacent property where marijuana cannot legally be grown, to protect neighbors from the strong odor of marijuana in the late growing cycle and the harvesting period, which some neighbors claim keeps them inside during those times.
And in Colorado, the small town of Basalt in Pitkin County, only a few miles outside of Aspen, is the site of High Valley Farms, a 25,000 square foot indoor cultivation center that supplies one of the 6 retail outlets (the Silverpeak Apothecary) in Aspen. Because of public complaints about the odor of marijuana, the Pitkin County Commissioners have issued a stern warning to High Valley Farms to eradicate the marijuana odor that has infuriated nearby neighbors, or face the termination of their agricultural license when it comes up for renewal in September. The license was granted with the condition that the farm would not emit any smells to the detriment of the lifestyle of nearby residents.
In addition to the complains about the impact on the quality of life, a number of Basalt property owners have also complained that their property values have declined and “what smells like money” to the cultivation center “smells like property devaluation” to the home owners. The CEO of High Valley Farms has acknowledged some technical problems with their smell-mitigation technology, but has promised the problem will be resolved within a few weeks. They obviously have a strong financial incentive to resolve the problem, and quickly.
So while these two new issues are real, there are solutions available and they must be quickly implemented by those in the industry. The pioneers who hold the licenses in this new industry must not be allowed to put the health of consumers at risk, or diminish the quality of life of their neighbors, in their rush to get rich. They must demonstrate they are responsible corporate citizens, or be replaced by others who will.