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A doctor in Maine who specializes in osteopathic medicine was reprimanded by the New Hampshire state Board of Medicine over allegations of professional misconduct for penning a permission slip to the employer of a patient. doctorpatientrelationship

The doctor, who practices family medicine in both Maine and across the state line in New Hampshire, received the reprimand as part of a larger settlement over the incident, which he signed off on last month and which was approved this month by the state board of medicine. In addition to the reprimand, the physician agreed to under 11 hours of continuing medical education, which is going to include three hours of medical records documentation as well as five hours on substance abuse and another three hours on ethics.

The patient was allegedly being treated by the doctor, who understood the patient had a history of drug abuse. In early 2015, the patient revealed to her doctor that she had smoked marijuana recently, and then shortly thereafter had to take a drug test for her job. The patient then asked the doctor to write her a note that would indicate she had a valid prescription for medical marijuana. The doctor acquiesced her requests, indicating that she would occasionally use the drug for the purposes of helping her to sleep, stimulate her appetite as well as to cope with anxiety. There is no documentation in the medical record, according to the state board’s report, that the patient was counseled against using marijuana as medicine, given her prior history of known substance abuse.  Continue reading

When it comes to drunk driving, the laws are fairly uniform from state-to-state. There may be some variation in penalties, including the amount of the fine or the length of possible jail time. Some states require ignition interlocks after a first-time offense, while others leave it up to the discretion of the judge. policelights

But when it comes to driving while under the influence of marijuana, states are a bit all over the place. For example, there are six states in all that impose limits on how much THC (the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis) a driver may have in his or her system before he or she is deemed impaired. Twelve states have zero tolerance policies, which means any amount of THC in a driver’s blood is going to be used as proof the driver was impaired. The majority of states don’t have any concrete laws concerning marijuana and motorists, say the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

The primary issue is the point at which a driver is considered “impaired.” A recent analysis conducted by Nerdwallet revealed that while the standards ascertaining intoxication vary wildly, the one thing any driver arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana can expect: Higher auto insurance rates.  Continue reading

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly approved a drug called Syndros, which is a synthetic form of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Its use is limited to patients who are suffering from AIDS and cancer.laboratory

Syndros is the liquid version of a drug called Marinol, which was approved back in 1985 as a synthetic cannabinoid. However, Marinol only comes in pill form. Syndros is the liquid form. Marinol was approved in the mid-80s to treat the same conditions as Syndros.

Interestingly, the approval of this liquid synthetic came around the same time the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) refused to reclassify marijuana as anything but a Schedule I narcotic, despite petitions from lawmakers to knock it down to a Schedule II. In the agency’s refusal to take this action, officials cited lack of proof that marijuana serves any legitimate medical purpose. Yet we are making synthetic versions of it for uses that are clearly legitimate and medical? Continue reading

Recently, President Obama commuted the sentences of a record 214 federal inmates, which was the largest single-day commutations grant in our national history. It means the total number of presidential commutations the president has issued is now at 562, which is more than any other president who actually granted federal prisoner commutations since Calvin Coolidge. In fact, it’s more than the last nine presidents combined. handcuffs6

Most of these commutations have occurred in this, Obama’s last year in office. Undoubtedly, they are part of a larger state Obama is making about the existing failures in our criminal drug system. Of those whose sentences were commuted on this recent round, 197 were serving life sentences for non-violent drug crimes. Almost every one of the total 214 were serving sentences for non-violent crimes that were in some way connected to drugs. They will all be freed by December 1st.

“The extraordinary rate of incarcerations of non-violent drug offenders has created its own set of problems,” Obama said at a news conference announcing the commutations. These consequences include:

  • Stressed communities
  • Families forever broken
  • Huge swaths of people – most lower-income minorities – locked out of legal economic opportunity.

Continue reading

Lawmakers in California put us one step closer to shutting down the practice of asset forfeiture law that gives the government the right to seize cash, cars, real estate and other property solely on the belief that it has been used to further criminal activity. smoke

Senate Bill 443 was passed 67 to 7 by the California Assembly, backed by a bi-partisan effort led by Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and David Hadley (R-Torrance).

The way the current law stands, certain public agencies are allowed to use this action as a means of recovering expenses used to seize, eradicate, destroy or take remedial action in connection with any controlled substance. The local or state agency in question does have to provide some type of clear and convincing evidence that the property should be subject to forfeiture and proceeds from the sale of that property can only be distributed to specified agencies, with the attorney general publishing annual reports of forfeitures in the state. It’s a process that has been used repeatedly to seize property from those connected to the medical marijuana industry in California – from dispensary operators to landlords to patients to doctors to farmers. Continue reading

In a major victory for those facing prosecution under federal marijuana laws, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled unanimously that the federal government cannot prosecute persons who grow and distribute medicinal marijuana so long as they are in compliance with state law. gavel21

The case, U.S. v. McIntosh, is a consolidated appeal involving 10 different cases of interlocutory appeals and petitions for writs of mandamus that arose from three district courts in two states (California and Washington). All defendants in these cases were facing federal charges for violation of the Controlled Substances Act. Each sought dismissal of their indictments or else alternatively to enjoin their cases on a Congressional appropriations rider that would bar the Department of Justice from spending taxpayer money to prevent states from implementing their medical marijuana laws. You may recall that in the last two years, Congress prohibited the federal government from spending money in a way that would block or thwart state medical marijuana laws.

It was the position of federal prosecutors that this ban didn’t undercut their right to go after those who cultivate and distribute the drug under federal law – even in states where marijuana was legal. But now, the 9th Circuit has clearly issued a response to that, which is a resounding: No.  Continue reading

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced it will not remove marijuana from the list that classifies it as one of the most dangerous drugs, a decision that both mystifies and outrages scientists, doctors, patients, public officials and advocates. These groups argue there is ample evidence to show that marijuana is a medically useful drug (a stipulation of Schedule I narcotics is that there is no accepted medical use) and the federal government is wrong not to recognize those positive attributes.marijuana

Reclassifying the drug from a Schedule I to a Schedule II would have a profound impact on restrictions and federal penalties. For example, Schedule II drugs have an easier time obtaining federal approval for studies, which ultimately pave the way for doctors to write prescriptions for marijuana and derivative products. It would also allow those drugs to be filled at pharmacies, alongside other Schedule II drugs, such as Adderall.

The DEA’s decision was derided by the eight Democratic legislators who called for federal regulators to reclassify the drug. One of those, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), expressed her disappointment, as did Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), for “antiquated ideology.”  Continue reading

To those of us who have been around a while, the mere fact that you can walk down the street to the local dispensary and pick up your prescription for marijuana is still something of a small miracle. grocery1

However, some are predicting it may soon be even more convenient than that. There are rumors that the drug may be available at some point at your local supermarket.

Will that render California marijuana dispensaries a thing of the past? Probably not. Sure, picking up your pot with your produce may be convenient, but you won’t necessarily get the one-on-one service and expertise that you do with a dispensary. After all, marijuana is a drug and many users want to make sure that not only are they getting a product that is quality, but also one that fits their needs and is safe.  Continue reading

At a quinceanera in San Francisco, 19 people were sickened – including a 6-year-old child – after reportedly consuming gummy candies that were available as refreshments at the birthday festivities. gummy

Now, investigators with the San Francisco Police Department have said they believe the “candy” was in fact a form of edible marijuana and they are exploring whether the candy might have been placed there intentionally.

If it is shown the candy was knowingly placed there as a means to harm children, officials said, that would be, “a serious crime.” Still, officials said they wouldn’t rush to that assumption. Thirteen of the 19 people who fell ill were under the age of 18, with the youngest being just 6-years-old. The party was for a 15-year-old girl.  Continue reading

The first federal marijuana possession case prosecuted in Oregon in five years involves a teenager who is facing up to one year in prison for having just a single gram of the plant. handcuffs2

According to The Washington Post, the 19-year-old recent high school graduate is preparing for college this fall. But at the same time, he’s facing down a possible federal prison sentence that could derail his future.

Bear in mind: This is the state where the drug has been legal for adult recreational use since 2014. But state law has never reconciled with federal law, which still classifies it as a Schedule I narcotic, which means it’s on par with heroin. Back in 2013, the U.S. Justice Department issued a memorandum that announced a hands-off policy with regard to state-level cannabis laws. However, that memo included a provision that directed prosecutors to continue taking on cases that involve distributing marijuana to minors. And that’s where this case picks up.  Continue reading