Medical Marijuana in the Workplace
The House Human Services Committee today hears a bill tackling medical marijuana in the workplace.
This the third bill to come from an interim committee that spent six months working on medical marijuana legislation, Republican Representative Gary MacLaren’s (House District 89,) House Bill 43 gives guidelines and restrictions to employers on how to handle employees who may be impaired due to medical marijuana.
Medical cannabis supporters say they interpret the bill to mean that an employer could terminate an employee simply for having a medical marijuana card, at the same time subjecting them to drug testing that violates privacy.
Supporters of the bill claim that the clarifications address public safety, acting as a safety net from litigation and wrongful termination lawsuits.
“Right away that employee claims, well you fired me because of my medical marijuana card. Now that would be fine, except, the employer won the day but now you’re looking at a lot of attorney’s fees for no reason,” says one proponent.
“This bill does nothing to address job performance or impairment on the job, it simply targets medical cannabis patients. It reminds me strongly of legislation proposed in the early 80’s targeting the homosexual community denying them access to jobs and public education, etc.” says Doug Chyatte with Montanans for Responsible Legislation.
“If the guy that’s running that machine, is not fully cognoscente of everything going on around him or her, there could be some tragic consequences,” says Cary Hegreberg, Montana Contractors' Association.
“You’re basically legalizing a kind of bigotry,” says Tom Daubert with Patients and Families Unitied who opposed the bill for going too far.
The bill does not include prescription medication and medical cannabis advocates say the bill opens up currently exempt employees in the state of Montana to drug testing.
Marijuana soft drinks set to launch
A California entrepreneur is debuting a new line of soft drinks laced with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, in a bid to quench medical-marijuana needs for people who don't want to smoke or eat marijuana.
Clay Butler plans to introduce the Canna Cola brand of so-called "soda pot" beverages to Colorado stores by February.
Butler, who claims he has never done drugs or smoked a cigarette in his life, has designed flavours such as Doc Weed, Sour Diesel, Grape Ape and Orange Kush. The original Canna Cola flavour will remain as the company's "flagship" beverage.
"I'm a firm believer that adults have an inalienable right to think, eat, smoke, drink, ingest, decorate, dress any way they choose," Butler told the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper.
Each of the bottles bears the company's logo — a cannabis leaf composed of bubbles — along with the promise of "12 mind-blowing ounces" of carbonated drink within.
Marijuana drinks already exist, but Butler, a commercial artist, believes his branding savvy sets his product apart.
A slogan on the product's website reads: "Canna Cola — Just Say Yes".
"You look at all the marijuana products out there, and they are so mom-and-pop, hippie-dippy and rinky-dink," Butler told the Sentinel. "If someone can put every colour on the rainbow on it, they do. If they can pick the most inappropriate and unreadable fonts, they will."
The dosage of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in the product is around 35 to 65 milligrams, and would be lower than other marijuana drinks available on the market. It will also have "a mild marijuana taste," according to the company marketing the product.
Each bottle will retail for around $10 to $15.
Officers: Limit medical marijuana for NV parolees
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — State parole and probation officers want better control of parolees who have medical marijuana cards.
One proposal would require parolees to get permission from the Board of Parole Commissioners before being granted a medical marijuana card, according to The Nevada Appeal of Carson City. Parole cannot be revoked for using medical marijuana.
Parole and Probation Lt. Tom Ely told the board Thursday he doesn't want to limit access for parolees with HIV, cancer or diseases such as glaucoma. But many parolees use medical marijuana for minor problems, such as flat feet or anxiety, Ely said.
"Most of them are only using (medical marijuana) to get around the rules," he said. "We're just looking to deny those who are looking for an excuse to continue to get high."
If their drug use cannot be prevented, Ely said it makes recidivism more likely, especially for sex offenders.
"If they're abusing drugs, there's no way to manage their rehabilitation," Ely said.
Chairman Connie Bisbee said state law likely prevents the board or parole officers from requiring permission.
The board may ask the state Legislature, which begins meeting Feb. 7, to give parole officers the power to regulate medical marijuana use. But until then, not much can be done.
"While you could make a condition that you can't smoke marijuana, you can't enforce it," Bisbee said.
Commissioner Tony Coda said the board doesn't have the medical expertise to make a decision about whether somebody should qualify.
About 3,000 people in Nevada have medical marijuana cards, according to the state Health Division. Althoutgh the law was passed about a decade ago, applications have skyrocketed, with more than 1,000 filed in the last six months.
During the upcoming legislative session, Democratic Assemblyman Paul Aizley, of Las Vegas, planned to introduce a bill to allow people to smoke marijuana without a state-issued card.
Wyoming court rejects Boulder man's medical pot defense
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — People who legally obtain medical marijuana in other states are not exempt from criminal prosecution for drug possession in Wyoming, the state Supreme Court has ruled.
The court unanimously ruled last week in the case of Daniel J. Burns, of Boulder, who was arrested in March 2009 in Laramie County on a felony drug possession charge after being caught with more than a pound of marijuana in his vehicle.
Colorado is one of 16 states and the District of Columbia that allow medical marijuana use or make special concessions on penalties for marijuana users with a medical condition.
But medical marijuana advocates say it's important for marijuana users to understand that they can't possess the drug in states where it is illegal.
"This certainly should serve as wake-up call to Colorado's 100,000-plus medical marijuana patients that their rights will not necessarily be respected in Wyoming and other states," Brian Vicente, head of the marijuana-advocacy group Sensible Colorado, said Thursday.
Burns, who has a Colorado registry card and doctor's certification to use marijuana for medical purposes, argued that Wyoming drug laws exempt people who are prescribed drugs by a doctor.
However, the Supreme Court ruled this week that under Colorado's medical marijuana laws, doctors do not prescribe medical marijuana but simply recommend use of marijuana for treatment. A person who receives a doctor's recommendation must apply for the Colorado medical marijuana registry card and the state determines whether to issue one.
"Importantly, it is not the action of the physician that determines any potential possession of marijuana by the patient," the court opinion, authored by Justice Michael Golden, said. "Clearly, therefore, the physician is not prescribing or ordering the possession of marijuana."
Tina Kerin, a member of the public defender's office who served as part of Burns' defense team, said the team is considering asking the state court to rehear the case. Rehearings are rarely granted by the Supreme Court, Kerin said.
Keith Stroup, lawyer for the Washington-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said states with medical marijuana laws do not allow doctors to prescribe the drug because marijuana is still an illegal substance under federal law.
"So if a doctor should attempt to prescribe it he would lose his license and, of course, there would be no protection for the patient either," St. Pierre said.
No one has been prescribed marijuana since the early 1940s, he said.
Stroup also noted that some states with medical marijuana laws do allow use by residents of other states with such laws, but not all of them.
Lawmakers In Montana Hear Medical Marijuana Testimony
On Friday more than 100 people came to testify at the capitol building in Helena, Montana on the subject of medical marijuana and its patients. Citizens from all areas of the political spectrum came to let lawmakers know what they think as the politicians decide on how best to regulate the state’s cannabis industry.
From those who feel the medical marijuana law never should have been passed to those patients and activists who think its the best thing that ever happened to them, the session produced many opinions and one thing is for certain: stricter regulations are coming to medical marijuana in Montana. There is a perception that the system is “out of control” and that is where politicians shine. They will push each other down to build up the “crisis” then “solve” it.
It remains to be seen how far Montana lawmakers will take these regulations; there is even a chance for a vote to repeal the law altogether. That would be completely unacceptable and must not be allowed to happen. Spread the word, and if you live in Montana, get on your representatives.
Oregon Could Legalize Pot By 2012
The executive director of the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation is working to get a measure on the ballot in 2012 to legalize marijuana in the state of Oregon. Paul Stanford also says it should be taxed like cigarettes and liquor to generate millions of dollars of revenue for the state. He says it would be regulated and distributed to people over the age of 21. “We want to regulate it so that businesses like bars and taverns that bar the admission of minors can offer that as a business,” he said.
He says it would bring a steady flow of cash for the state. “Alcohol revenues bring in about $75 million. It will create lots of new jobs. It will create all these new industries. We think it will be billions and billions of dollars in the long run.” Some say it’s a drug that is safer than beer and wine. “It affects your brain differently,” said Chris Becket, who agrees with the idea. “I don’t think it affects it as severely as alcohol does, especially when you’re driving.” But not everyone is ready to walk through a haze of smoke. “Typically, people that are smoking marijuana become more apathetic, and they lose their desire to get out, work and accomplish things,” said Wayne Turner. About 90 percent of the revenue brought in would go to the state’s general fund. In order to get the idea on the ballot, Stanford needs to get nearly 90,000 signatures.
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