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Marijuana users across the nation have long faced employment sanctions related to their cannabis use – even when that use is sanctioned under state law by medical marijuana provisions. On November 9, 2016, personal use and cultivation of recreational marijuana became lawful within California. Many cannabis users assumed that – in addition to their right to use marijuana recreationally – their workplace rights would be protected, as well. Unfortunately they are not.

Employment Rights and Recreational Use Law

Current California case law allows employers wide discretion to create workplace drug policies for pre-employment drug testing and employee drug use. In 1997, the Superior Court of Los Angeles considered a constitutional challenge to the City of Glendale’s drug policy. (Loder v. City of Glendale,14 Cal.4th 846). Lorraine Loder alleged that the drug policy – which required drug tests of any applicant, and any current employee who applied for a promotion – violated the privacy guarantees of the state Constitution. In a somewhat surprising (and verbosely-dissented) opinion, the Court determined that pre-employment testing did not violate an applicant’s expectation of privacy, but promotional testing for current employees did. In general, the court disclaimed an employer’s right to conduct random drug screenings on employees without having particular reason to suspect drug use. The court left open an employer’s broader right to fashion wide-reaching drug policies, provided those policies did not otherwise infringe on state or federal law.

In 2008, the Supreme Court of California considered an employer’s drug policies in conjunction with an employee’s lawful use of medical marijuana (Ross v. RagingWire Telecommunication Inc., 174 P.3d 200). The Court – noting that the Compassionate Use Act contained no employment provisions – determined that there was no law or public policy which would require an employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana, and affirmed RagingWire’s decision to fire Mr. Ross. This, too, created a broad right of employers to fire employees on the basis of marijuana use.

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While the marijuana laws in the U.S. are gradually becoming more relaxed, in the United Kingdom, the drug remains a Class B substance, which means simple possession can result in a five-year prison term. Those caught supplying the drug can face up to 14 years in prison. marijuana

Yet there are many people who are desperately ill and in need of the drug as medicine. This has created an underground medical marijuana scene, a snapshot of which was recently seen in a new documentary series called Viceland. Dealers reportedly give away tens of thousands of pounds of cannabis every year in an effort to help relief physical pain and suffering of those in need.

Similar to the arguments against legalization in the U.S., those against allowing medical marijuana in the U.K. argue that the drug is tough to dose, has been linked to mental health problems and serves as a “gateway” drug.  Continue reading

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

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

Legalization of recreational marijuana is on the horizon in California. But meanwhile, there are a lot of employers who still drug test as a condition of employment. In many cases, testing positive for marijuana is grounds to deny someone a job. marijuana1

Will legalization change that?

That question was explored recently in L.A. Weekly, which noted that if voters agree to approve recreational marijuana on Nov. 8, employers could find themselves in hot water if they ask prospective or current employees to pee in a cup. Continue reading

It seems the more researchers are allowed to study marijuana, the more benefits they find.smokeswirls

Most recently, a study by a team of researchers published in The Journal of Pain revealed that vaporized cannabis was an effective treatment for neuropathic pain caused by injury to or disease of the spinal cord. Most of the candidates in the trial were suffering intense, chronic pain as a result of their condition, even despite other more traditional forms of treatment.

For them, it turned out, medical cannabis was a game-changer.

This was a relatively small-scale study, so more research is necessary. However, the results are strong and suggests this could be a promising means of treatment.  Continue reading

Long Beach city officials have prevailed in their fight to ban medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegramgavel21

The California appellate court decision did not surprise anyone. This litigation, filed four years ago, was a challenge to the city’s ban on dispensaries based on the argument that the action was a violation of the rights of the disabled.

The reason the outcome, handed down by the Court of Appeal, was no surprise was that it had been filed prior to the California Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, Inc. In that case, the state high court ruled that the state’s medical marijuana laws do not prohibit cities from enacting a ban on the operation of local marijuana dispensaries within that city’s borders.  Continue reading

For years, the biggest threat for small-time marijuana dispensaries and collectives in California were the authorities – namely, the federal government. Now as that threat is waning, a new one has emerged: Big business.cashbriefcase1

California was the first to legalize the drug as medicine in 1996, but those who dispensed marijuana were never allowed to make a profit. Until now.

Well, actually, two years from now. That’s when the measure that will pull marijuana off the black market will fully go into effect, and the new California medical marijuana czar will initiate the licensing, product testing and tracking seed-to-sale of the drug. And for the first time, dispensaries will be allowed to make a profit.

The New York Times reported that last year, the California medical marijuana industry generated some $2.7 billion in sales. But all of that was funneled through non-profits. Now, companies will actually be allowed to profit from it, and there will be no limitation on how many plants farmers can grow. Continue reading

A proposed state assembly measure would give landlords the authority to ban tenants from smoking medical marijuana inside their residences. smoke

The measure was introduced by Assemblyman Jim Wood, the Democrat from Heraldsburg who pointed to a study by the University of California San Francisco indicating secondhand smoke from marijuana could result in damage to the cardiovascular system, similar to what has been identified with tobacco.

Although landlords already have the authority to prohibit smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products on their properties, this development is troubling for the fact that it involves medicine. Tobacco is not typically used for its medicinal properties. In fact, it has proven a massive public health threat. On the other hand, despite the fact marijuana is considered a Schedule I narcotic by the federal government, it has many known medicinal benefits.  Continue reading

There is no question that medical marijuana is big business. In some jurisdictions where medical marijuana is legal, there are no real restrictions on the types of products allowed to be sold. Some areas, like California, have basically every type of medical marijuana product that has ever been produced. If you do not want to smoke marijuana, you don’t have to, as you can get it in liquid form to cook with or vaporize. You can purchase cannabis infused candy such as lollipops or even THC gummy bears.

403_dutch_weed.jpgOn the other hand, there are jurisdictions where you can only get medical marijuana in the form of pills or THC oil. The THC oil can be ingested or used for cooking medical marijuana edibles, as well as other purposes. This oil form has been shown to be incredibly helpful in treating children with seizure disorders after so-called conventional medical treatment has failed. Since you cannot have a child smoking pot, it makes sense to use a few drops of THC oil from an eyedropper. The drops are either placed directly on the patient’s tongue or mixed into a drink.
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