Calif lawmaker would bar firings for medipot use
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—A California lawmaker wants to prohibit employers from firing qualified medical marijuana users who consume pot when they're not on the job.
The bill proposed by Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno would also make it illegal for employers not to hire someone solely because they use marijuana for medical reasons.
Leno in 2007 proposed a similar bill that was passed by the legislature but vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The California Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that nothing in the state's current medical marijuana laws bars an employer from firing medical marijuana users who test postive for pot.
Leno's bill would exempt from protection workers such as doctors, nurses, school bus drivers and heavy equipment operators who hold so-called safety sensitive jobs.
Medical Cannabis Symposium
About 50 community members attended a recent seminar sponsored by Ukiah's three cannabis dispensaries: Compassionate Heart, MJ's Place and Reflections of Avalon, for an afternoon of presentations and discussion - the first of what sponsors hope will be many future events. MediCann is the nation's largest provider of medical marijuana recommendations - more than 230,000 to date. MediCann founder Dr. Jean Tallerand presented the history of marijuana - discussing the etymological meaning of cannabis and its usage dating from Persia in 8000 B.C. to the present. "Cannabis is the oldest nonfood crop cultivated by humans," said Tallerand. Citing research from Ukiah Daily Journal archives, Dr. Tallerand drew chuckles quoting a 1907 edition of the Ukiah Dispatch Democrat reporting that the "queer smokes gave one a desire to caress one's feet." A Garden Club report in a 1934 Redwood Journal article quoted a member who "gave a reading on marijuana, a most interesting and lovely plant." Tallerand says "our dualistic history with cannabis" continues unabated, noting as a federally classified Schedule I drug, cannabis has no accepted medical use. "Yet drug companies developed a synthetic version of THC- marinol," said Tallerand, demonstrating the discontinuity between federal regulations and the FDA's acceptance of synthesized cannabis as medicine.
Tim Blake, proprietor of Laytonville's Area 101 and founder of thebannual Emerald Cup outdoor cannabis competition discussed challenges for outdoor growers. "Today we grow all the outdoor cannabis we need but can't get it to the marketplace. Mendo's crop was four times larger than last year, but we retain less than 18 percent of market share. We have a whole generation that doesn't like outdoor cannabis. It's a tough market to break," he noted. Blake feels the future of the cannabis industry is producing strains high in "CBDs" - molecular compounds providing patients with more health and less "high." He emphasized his success with the 9.31 program and encouraged growers to join. "If you're not an inlaw, you're an outlaw," Blake cautioned.
Dr. Mark Rabe, MediCann's director of patient services, reviewed cannabis and patient health. "MediCann patient profiles include the elderly suffering from osteoporosis, hospice patients, glaucoma, chronic pain, insomnia, arthritis, migraines, cancer, HIV and MS," he said. Rabe discussed the role of CBDs and the brain's endocannabinoid receptor sites. "Cannabis binds to these receptor sites located on cell membranes. This causes intracellular reactions resulting in relief from pain and nausea, lowering of intra-ocular pressure in glaucoma patients, changes in the gastrointestinal system and reduction of inflammation and blood pressure." Ukiah's MediCann physician Dr. John Lovejoy discussed cannabis use during pregnancy and breast feeding, citing four years of county public health statistics from 1,261 pregnant mothers.
Medical Marijuana To Be Taxed In Arizona
Arizona soon will be taxing a new product medical marijuana. The tax on medical marijuana will be the same as taxing any other product in the state, whether it be candy or furniture. That’s a 6.6 percent state tax and between 2 percent and 3 percent for cities, said Anthony Forschino, assistant director of the state Department of Revenue. Arizona voters approved medical marijuana in November, making the state the 15th in the nation to pass such a law.
The measure will allow patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and other chronic or debilitating diseases to buy 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks or grow a limited number of plants themselves if they live 25 miles from a dispensary. Patients could begin buying pot with a doctor’s recommendation in the state this summer. Pot shops will have to get a sales tax license just like any other business, and the department will monitor whether they are paying taxes, as it does with all other stores, Forschino said. Attorney General Tom Horne, who opposed the medical marijuana measure, said now that it has been approved, it should not be exempt from taxes even though it may benefit patients with chronic, debilitating diseases.
“You go to the store, you buy things that are hopefully 100 percent beneficial, and it gets taxed because it’s a revenue source,” he said. “This is no different than anything else.” Horne estimates that the state stands to receive $40 million annually in revenues from taxing medical marijuana. Those hoping to open dispensaries this summer will have to compete for just 124 spots, and the state Department of Health Services expects up to thousands of applications. Dispensary hopefuls will have to pay up to $5,000 to apply for a license and meet many other requirements. Finalized rules that dispensaries must follow will come out at the end of March after a public comment period.
Colorado: Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Not Associated With Increased Crime
Medical Marijuana Effort Takes A Step Back
Efforts to establish a medical marijuana program in Iowa took a step backwards at the statehouse Wednesday. A House subcommittee approved legislation that strengthens language classifying marijuana as a schedule one drug, which is defined as a substance having no proven or acceptable medical use and a high potential for abuse. Representative Tom Sands, a Republican from Wapello, says the bill also makes it clear that the legislature has authority over the issue. “I do not support medical marijuana. I know there are those individuals out there that believe that it has helped them. I have no personal knowledge whether it has or has not helped them. Maybe it is up to medical professionals and the Board of Pharmacy to change our mind that we’re wrong,” Sands said.
Sands says any decisions about marijuana should be made by the legislature. “It’s quite often a gateway drug, especially for some of our younger people and more vulnerable…that it leads them into more hallucinogenic type drugs that do far more damage,” Sands said. The Executive Officer of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy says the board agrees that any decisions about marijuana should be made by the legislature. Terry Witkowski says they never intended to establish a medicinal program.
“A pharmacy could not distribute marijuana because it’s an illegal drug federally and that would essentially put the pharmacy out of business,” Witkowski said. But a lobbyist for the Justice Reform Consortium says the Iowa Board of Pharmacy has already spoken on the issue. Stephanie Fawkes Lee says after a series of public hearings in 2009 the board voted to recommend that marijuana be reclassified as a drug that does have medicinal value. “And the Board of Pharmacy took the time and used resources to go across the state and have people come and say yes we do use this for medical reasons,’” Fawkes Lee said. ”So, to have this bill introduced, it’s like calling those people liars. They were in pain, they have health issues and medical cannabis actually helps them.” Other supporters of medical marijuana are less concerned about the bill. Carl Olsen of Des Moines says it merely upholds existing law, and does not stop the Democratically controlled Senate from considering alternative legislation to reclassify the drug.
Medical-marijuana advocates raise privacy concerns
A lineup of medical-marijuana activists and business owners said today the state's proposed new rules for the cannabis industry threaten patient privacy.
Requirements that transactions at dispensaries be videotaped, purchases be documented and personal information be recorded could cause many of the state's more than 115,000 medical-marijuana patients to opt out of the system and return to buying pot on the street, advocates said. State officials say details of the purchases would be kept in a secure online database, but medical-marijuana advocates pointed to recent WikiLeaks disclosures as evidence that even guarded information can become public.
The advocates expressed their concerns this morning at the beginning of a two-day hearing on the rules, proposed by the state Revenue Department to regulate the thousands of medical-marijuana businesses that have sprung up in the last two years. About 30 advocates spoke during a public comment section of the hearing this morning.
"I am very concerned that many individuals ... will, due to the risk of having their information leaked, return to the black market," said Bruce Grainger, a dispensary owner who served on an advisory committee that helped craft some of the rules.
Read more: Denverpost.com
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