Billionaire May Try to Legalize Medical Marijuana in Ohio
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, May, 3rd 2011 by THCFinder
One of the biggest backers of medical marijuana in the country, Peter Lewis is seeking proposals to conduct a ballot initiative campaign to legalize marijuana for medical use in Ohio.
Fifteen states, according to the request for proposals, have made marijuana legal for qualified patients, most through the passage of similar voter initiatives. The first was California in 1996.
Now Lewis is considering pushing it through in his home state of Ohio. That’s where Progressive (nyse: PGR), the auto insurer founded by his father and run by Lewis for many years, is headquartered. Lewis, who now spends much of his time in Florida, gave up his CEO role in 2000 but remains chairman. About 90% of his net worth is held in shares of Progressive.
“Of the states that continue to prohibit medical use of marijuana, Ohio stands out as having particularly high levels of voter support,” stated the RFP, “This provides an opportunity to enact a new law that will directly help patients and to do so in a manner that will serve as a model for other states.” The goal of the proposals, due May 15, is not just to pass a voter initiative legalizing medical marijuana in Ohio but to design a campaign that could create a model for future campaigns in other states. Funding will be based on whether someone can make a convincing case that Ohio is the best state in which to win.
“You shouldn’t take it as a given that there will be a ballot initiative this campaign,” said Graham Boyd, Lewis’ lawyer and adviser, “But we want to see proposals.” He would not comment on whether Lewis is considering conducting similar ballot initiatives in other states.
Lewis has already given millions to the reform group, Marijuana Policy Project including $900,000 in 2010. He also gave $200,000 in support of California’s Proposition 19, the bill that sought unsuccessfully last November to legalize marijuana in California. Other billionaires who gave money in support of that bill include George Soros and Facebook billionaires Dustin Moskovitz and Sean Parker.
Lewis may have personal reasons for being so passionate about medical marijuana. He was once arrested for cannabis possession in New Zealand; his lawyer told the court he uses the drug to combat pain from a partial leg amputation.
Arizona medical marijuana law no shield for users, growers, prosecutor says
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, May, 2nd 2011 by THCFinder
Arizona's top federal prosecutor joined a growing chorus of law officers across the country Monday in saying that the state's medical marijuana law doesn't protect users, growers or sellers from federal prosecution.
U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, in a letter to Arizona's health director, said his office will abide by a 2009 Justice Department memo that discourages prosecution of medical marijuana users. But he said anyone who possesses or distributes marijuana is still violating federal law.
"This compliance with Arizona laws and regulations does not provide a safe harbor, nor immunity from federal prosecution," Burke wrote to Will Humble, director of the state Department of Health Services.
Burke's letter follows similar correspondence in recent weeks between federal prosecutors, attorneys general and governors in several other states, and dispensary and greenhouse raids in Washington, Montana and California.
Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire on Friday vetoed a bill in her state to regulate the medical-marijuana industry, which has been operating underground since voters approved it in 1998. Federal prosecutors there also made good on a promise to crack down on landlords who leased their property to dispensaries.
Gregoire and other governors have said they don't want to put state employees at risk of prosecution.
In his two-page letter, Burke said "individuals and organizations - including property owners, landlords and financiers" could be prosecuted under federal drug-trafficking laws. But he made no mention of state employees, who have been processing ID cards for hundreds of medical-marijuana users and are preparing to license dispensaries and cultivation sites this summer.
"The public should understand, however, that even clear and unambiguous compliance with (Arizona Medical Marijuana Act) does not render possession or distribution of marijuana lawful under federal statute," Burke wrote.
Burke said the state's medical pot law, approved by voters in November, does not apply on Arizona Indian reservations.
Dad Gives Toddler Battling Brain Cancer Medical Marijuana
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, May, 2nd 2011 by THCFinder
Bill Would Regulate "Wild West" of Medical Marijuana
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Fri, April, 29th 2011 by THCFinder
The "wild west" of medical marijuana dispensaries could be coming to an end in California.
State lawmakers are working on a bill that would ban medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within 600 feet of residential areas.
Anaheim City Councilwoman Kris Murray, who is pushing the measure, told the Los Angeles Times that some California residents don't feel safe on their own streets anymore.
Sen. Doug La Malfa said the 1996 ballot measure permitting medical marijuana sales has created a "wild west" in the industry and legislators have been trying to catch up.
In San Jose, the city had conversations of using eBay to auction of MCD permits when it talked of reducing the number of medical marijuana dispensaries from over 100 to 10.
If passed, the legislation would create buffer zones in residential neighborhoods where medical marijuana clubs would not be allowed to operate. Cities would also be given the power to adopt stricter regulations if they so choose.
Pass it to the Right: Medical Marijuana Gaining Steam in Illinois
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Thu, April, 28th 2011 by THCFinder
Back in November, Senate Bill 1381, which would have legalized medical marijuana, failed to receive enough votes.
The man behind the bill, Rep. Lou Lang (D-16thDistrict) told Skokie Patch in the past that many lawmakers were for the legislation – enough to pass it and then some – but that they wouldn't vote for it because of possible political fallout.
Back then, Lang fell short by seven votes during a lame-duck season in Congress. Some lawmakers feared Illinois would become another California.
Fast forward to today and a similar bill is gaining steam, as Lang and new allies – some Republican – are laying out a stricter set of rules for the bill.
The bill has new life, mainly because Republican Representative and House Minority Leader Tom Cross said he will support legalizing medical marijuana. His support came after talking to cancer patients and a disabled veteran.
The controversial plant would treat people with HIV/AIDS, cancer and severe glaucoma, among other illness. Yet Illinois lawmakers want to make sure that to make their state doesn’t become another California.
In California, for example, a person could receive a prescription for stating that they are simply having frequent headaches, something Illinois lawmakers don't want for the state.
Marijuana distribution sites in Illinois would also be not-for-profit, unlike those in California. There would also be severe penalties for those that sell the plant after obtaining it through prescription.
"How do you turn down the people who are sick? Who are in pain? People who haven't been able to have a quality life," Lang asked elected officials in Illinois. "This is not a bill about drugs. This is a bill about health care."
ACLU bids to reinstate suit over Walmart worker's medical marijuana firing
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, April, 27th 2011 by THCFinder
The American Civil Liberties Union today asked a federal appeals court to revive its lawsuit that claims Walmart wrongfully fired a Battle Creek employee who used medical marijuana to treat a brain tumor and cancer.
U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker dismissed the ACLU’s lawsuit in February, holding that Michigan’s medical marijuana law does not require companies to accommodate employees who are medical marijuana patients, nor does it prohibit them from firing employees for drug use.
But in a filing today with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, the ACLU argued that Jonker got it wrong. Specifically, the ACLU argued that Jonker ignored the text of the state’s medical marijuana law that prohibits businesses from firing patients who use marijuana in accordance with state law. The ACLU also argued that the case belongs in state court where the ACLU originally filed it.
The employee in this case is Joseph Casias, a 2008 Associate of the Year at a Walmart in Battle Creek who used marijuana to treat pain associated with an inoperable brain tumor and cancer. Casias was fired from his job after testing positive for marijuana in 2009, which led to the ACLU’s lawsuit.
The ACLU argued that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, passed by voters in 2008, protects medical marijuana patients from “disciplinary action by a business.” Moreover, Casias never ingested marijuana while at work, and never worked while under the influence of marijuana, the group argued.
“The lower court’s ruling failed to uphold the will of Michigan voters, who clearly wanted to protect medical marijuana and facilitate its use by very sick people like Joseph Casias,” Scott Michelman, staff attorney with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, said in a statement. “No one should ever have to choose between adequate pain relief and gainful employment, but Walmart forced Joseph to pay a stiff and unfair price for using a medicine that has had a life-changing positive effect for him.”
WalMart defended its decision to fire Casias.
“This is just an unfortunate situation all around, and we’re sympathetic to Mr. Casias’s condition,” said WalMart spokesman Greg Rossiter, noting that the decision to fire Casias was a safety issue. “Walmart has to consider the overall safety of our customers and our associates, including Mr. Casias. When we have to make a difficult decision like the one we did, ultimately the issue for us is the ability of our associates to do their jobs safely.”
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