August 15, 2015

Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics - Marijuana Employment Discrimination

As of earlier this year, the official count of registered medical marijuana users exceeded 1.1 million. That figure could easily exceed 2.5 million if marijuana were legal for medicinal purposes in all 50 states plus D.C., as there are an average of 7.7 patients for every 1,000 population right now.
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But these revelations are fairly new. In fact, marijuana has only been legal as medicine for two decades. It remains illegal under federal law, and it's still considered a Schedule I narcotic - the most dangerous level of the drug.

While it's true many of these patients are quite sick and may be unable to work full-time, many function just fine in their occupational roles, and their use of marijuana has no bearing on the job. Of course, just as with any controlled substance, many recognize that being under the influence of a drug - prescription or otherwise - at work can be, at minimum, a productivity issue and at worst, a safety issue.

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August 14, 2015

Colorado Opens First "Weedery," Akin to Wineries and Breweries

Breweries and wineries have long had a lock on the specialty spirits market for those who wish to indulge in a unique, public atmosphere.
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But now, a Colorado is set to do with marijuana what breweries do for beer and wineries do for aged grapes.

The business is a $35 million investment and is set to open just a half hour outside of Denver. It will feature greenhouses, as well as a performance space, a rooftop bar, a restaurant, a gift shop and a marijuana dispensary.

The CEO of the project, Green Man Cannabis Ranch and Amphitheater, said he's working to raise $100 million in capital total to launch at least five of these operations, expanding in to Nevada, Massachusetts, California and then Washington.

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August 13, 2015

Epileptic Student Not Allowed Medical Marijuana at School

Drug-free school zone laws are in place all over the country. In an effort to keep illicit drugs and illegal prescriptions out of the hands of pupils, state laws multiply the fines and penalties for anyone caught violating drug statutes on school property - or even within a certain radius. oil.jpg

But those laws were written before the age of medical marijuana, and long before any state approved the recreational use of marijuana for adults. Many school districts and law enforcement agencies continue to enforce the old laws on school grounds. There is still merit, they say, to keep schools free of drugs and out of the hands of children.

And perhaps there is. But what if we're talking medical marijuana? And what if the student is the patient?

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August 12, 2015

Man Imprisoned for Life for Nonviolent Marijuana Crimes to be Freed

A 61-year-old man in Missouri has been serving a life sentence in prison for nonviolent marijuana crimes. Soon, that will change.
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His attorney recently announced that per a decision by the state department of corrections, the man will be free within less than a month after serving more than 20 years in prison. His last offense was reportedly for selling six pounds of marijuana to an undercover officer in 1993. Strict drug laws in place at the time bound the judge to sentence him to life as a repeated drug offender. The state followed a "three strikes" law for all drug offenders.

The state parole board convened with him after he became eligible for parole this spring after the Democratic state governor commuted his life sentence, in addition to issuing pardons to five other offenders with non-violent pasts.

The governor received a petition from Change.org with nearly 400,000 signatures seeking clemency for the prisoner.

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August 11, 2015

Marijuana Edibles Subject to Tighter Regulation in Colorado

An initiative by Colorado lawmakers to impose tighter regulations on legal marijuana edible products may soon result in a bright red stop sign on the packaging, and a ban of the word "candy" on the labels. stop.jpg

A recent draft of new rules by marijuana regulators seeks to limit the desirability of these products among children. That's why barring the word "candy" is important, even on items like gummy chews or suckers.

Additionally, the packages would need to have a standard indication the product contains marijuana's psychoactive ingredient, THC. Regulators have introduced a proposed one, a red octagon stop-sign shape embossed with the letters "THC." Not only would manufacturers need to print this symbol on labels, they would also have to find a way to stamp it onto the edible product itself. That way, if it's ever out of the package, someone would be alerted to the difference.

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August 10, 2015

Report: Sheriffs Seek to Fight Marijuana With Armored Trucks

The "War on Drugs" has been an epic failure by many standards, particularly with regard to marijuana. The harm that has been inflicted in the course of this "war" - the gang fights over the black market, the sky-high incarceration levels of minorities, police killings and more - has far outweighed any sliver of benefit society might have gained.
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It seems the federal government has in some respects recognized this, and has dialed back the rhetoric and scaled back enforcement. At least to some degree.

However, it continues to allow local law enforcement to up the ante through the Pentagon's 1033 program. Through this initiative, police departments can request access to surplus military gear. Most notably, armored trucks and other military vehicles that are left over from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Historically, these have included:


  • assault rifles

  • grenade launchers

  • bayonets

  • MRAPs (armored military vehicles)

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August 9, 2015

Report: DOJ Mislead Congress on Medical Marijuana

Last year, when Congress was mulling a provision to an appropriations bill for medical marijuana, the U.S. Department of Justice interceded. Don't do it, the DOJ warned, unless you are willing to strip this agency of all ability to enforce federal law in recreational marijuana cases too. healthymarijuana.jpg

The goal of this message, relayed through "informal talking notes," was to dissuade legislators from passing the provision. It didn't work, and the measure was passed.

But what did emerge from that exchange was perhaps even more interesting. The Washington Post recently reported on the existence of an internal DOJ memorandum, written by the chief of the department's appellate section, written just after the vote. It clearly indicates the provision that justice officials fought so staunchly against was, in fact, harmless to its operations.

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August 7, 2015

Determining the Medical Reach of Medical Marijuana

Marijuana was known as medicine centuries before lawmakers in the U.S. sought to stamp it out. But in the last two decades, it seems Americans are finally coming around, as 23 states plus the District of Columbia have passed laws that make it legal to use marijuana for medicinal treatments. Another four states have given the green light for recreational use of the drug. stethascope4.jpg

Other countries such as Spain, Israel, Germany, Finland, Canada and Austria have also allowed people access to marijuana prescribed by a doctor.

Advocates of medicinal marijuana are still fighting for expanded access, arguing the drug is both effective and safe as a therapy for a wide range of ailments. However, opponents assert the benefits are overblown and the harms are swept under the rug. They insist the only reason people are pushing so hard for medical marijuana is that it makes it more accessible to those who want it solely for recreation.

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August 6, 2015

Michigan Marijuana Charges Dropped Following Ruling by State Supreme Court

The Michigan Supreme Court recently issued its ninth ruling relative to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, a move that prompted prosecutors to drop at least five pending criminal cases for alleged unlawful distribution of the drug. The civil forfeiture cases connected to those five cases will also be dismissed, and the items seized will be returned.
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Prosecutors weren't eager to drop the charges, but felt they had no choice but to do so in light of the most recent state high court ruling.

The state supreme court noted the frequency with which it has had to continue trying to interpret the state's marijuana law, with one justice saying in a unanimous opinion that the law lacked procedural scrutiny that resulted in the law being unclear, inconsistent and difficult to interpret. What's more, the act can only be modified with approval from three-fourths the representatives in both chambers of the state legislature.

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August 5, 2015

State Lawmakers Tell Congress to Back Off Marijuana Enforcement

Marijuana is still classified by federal guidelines as highly dangerous, addictive and having little to no redeeming value. usampa.jpg

And yet, 23 states plus D.C. have legalized the drug for medicinal purposes, with four of those going so far as to allow access to the drug for recreational use. Many more have decriminalized minor possession of the drug, even if they haven't gone so far as to make it totally legal.

But so long as the drug remains illegal at the federal level, there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding its future - and the patients, industries, doctors, employees and organizations connected to it.

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August 4, 2015

Study: Teen Marijuana Use Not Linked to Health Trouble

Male teens who use marijuana almost daily - identified as chronic users - are not at higher risk for developing physical or mental health issues - including depression and psychosis - later in life than their non-drug user counterparts.
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That finding comes from researchers with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Rutgers University. The psychologists tracked the progress of more than 400 males from their teen years through their mid-30s, noting their differing patterns of marijuana usage.

Overall, the information gathered provided little to no indication that one's pattern of marijuana usage from teen years through young adulthood had any negative impact on their physical or mental well-being, researchers stated.

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August 2, 2015

Cannabis Less Dangerous Than Heroin, New DEA Chief Concedes

For years, marijuana has been classified by the federal government as a Schedule I narcotic. That has put it in the same class with heroin and other dangerous drugs that have no medicinal benefit and are highly addictive.
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This classification was a big part of the reason state and federal authorities came down so hard on marijuana grow operations, those who distributed the drug and even those who merely possessed it. Marijuana for many years has been treated as Public Enemy No. 1, even when the reality is it is effective medicine for cancer patients, children with seizures, adults struggling with HIV/AIDS or anorexia and many others with serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. Prosecutors have been relentless in their pursuit of those who cultivate and distribute the drug, and civil forfeiture actions allow authorities to seize private property used for these purposes.

While these policies have eased considerably in recent years, the schedule classification of marijuana remains the same. All of this history is noteworthy in light of recent statements made by the newest chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Bluntly, Chief Chuck Rosenberg stated: "Heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana."

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July 31, 2015

Blue Ribbon Commission Report Offers Road Map to Legal Marijuana

A panel headed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome has released a report urging California legislators and voters to proceed cautiously with legalization of marijuana for recreation.
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The Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy, which was founded two years ago, outlines a total of 58 strategies, goals and recommendations for marijuana legalization that focus on limiting access to young people, offering sufficient treatment programs and public education campaigns.

The underlying theme throughout the report was that heavy government regulation is key to the process, and several suggestions were made on engaging the federal government to, at minimum, relax the banking standards and IRS rules that currently block these types of businesses.

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July 28, 2015

U.S. Senate Committee Favors Marijuana Banking Bill

Ever since the beginning of medical marijuana legalization, a central issue has vexed the industry: Banking. piggybankonmoney.jpg

Because the drug remains illegal under federal law, federally-insured banks (pretty much all of them) could not open accounts for marijuana dispensaries or businesses without the risk of violating federal money laundering statutes.

This is true even though many states now recognize the legal distribution of marijuana for recreational as well as medicinal purposes.

But money has to change hands. Rather than keeping it all-cash, which heightens the risk of robberies, financial crimes, gang involvement and tax errors, marijuana industry advocates have been pushing to have this regulation on banks eased.

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July 26, 2015

TV Anchor Fired for Testing Positive for Marijuana

Although possession, use and distribution of marijuana has been made legal in various forms throughout the country, many employers have policies that do not reflect this.
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Take for example the television news anchor in Oregon who was fired after testing positive for the drug. A new report indicates the morning weekend anchor at a smaller ABC affiliate was involved in a minor accident while she was on assignment. Per company policy, the anchor was required to undergo a drug test.

She failed it. She was fired.

However, the anchor-turned-activist, 25, says she was totally sober while she at work. She insists she used the drug several days prior to that shift. This is completely plausible, given the way marijuana is processed by the body. Unlike alcohol, which courses through a person's system very quickly, marijuana lingers. It can be detected for days or sometimes even weeks in the body's of those who use it regularly.

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Recent Entries

August 15, 2015 Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics - Marijuana Employment Discrimination As of earlier this year, the official count of registered medical marijuana users exceeded 1.1...

August 14, 2015 Colorado Opens First "Weedery," Akin to Wineries and Breweries Breweries and wineries have long had a lock on the specialty spirits market for those...

August 13, 2015 Epileptic Student Not Allowed Medical Marijuana at School Drug-free school zone laws are in place all over the country. In an effort to...

August 12, 2015 Man Imprisoned for Life for Nonviolent Marijuana Crimes to be Freed A 61-year-old man in Missouri has been serving a life sentence in prison for nonviolent...

August 11, 2015 Marijuana Edibles Subject to Tighter Regulation in Colorado An initiative by Colorado lawmakers to impose tighter regulations on legal marijuana edible products may...

August 10, 2015 Report: Sheriffs Seek to Fight Marijuana With Armored Trucks The "War on Drugs" has been an epic failure by many standards, particularly with regard...