9th Circuit Court Rules MMJ Not Protected By Americans with Disabilities Act
Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, California have been trying to ban medical marijuana dispensaries for several years and today the 9th Circuit court agreed with the cities, saying that medical marijuana use wasn’t protected by the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Several patients had filed suit in federal court trying to overturn the bans, seeking relief from the government under the ADA. "We recognize that the plaintiffs are gravely ill, and that their request for ADA relief implicates not only their right to live comfortably, but also their basic human dignity," Judge Raymond Fisher wrote for the majority. "We also acknowledge that California has embraced marijuana as an effective treatment for individuals like the plaintiffs who face debilitating pain. Congress has made clear, however, that the ADA defines 'illegal drug use' by reference to federal, rather than state, law, and federal law does not authorize the plaintiffs' medical marijuana use. We therefore necessarily conclude that the plaintiffs' medical marijuana use is not protected by the ADA."
In other words, marijuana’s illegality under the federal Controlled Substances Act means there is really nothing patients can do to protect themselves, from the feds or even from their own city. Which means the battle over federal marijuana policy continues. Until federal laws are changed, there is nothing a state can really do to allow medical cannabis.
There was one small ray of hope in the 9th Circuit’s decision as Judge Marsha Berzon dissented from their opinion, saying, "Looking at the language of § 12210(d)(1) alone, I would come out where the majority does - concluding that the statute is ambiguous," she wrote. "But unlike the majority, I would not declare a near-draw. Instead, looking at the words alone, I would conclude that the plaintiffs have much the better reading, but not by enough to be comfortable that their interpretation is surely correct. Turning then to the legislative history, I would again declare the plaintiffs the winner, this time sufficiently, when combined with the language considerations, to adopt their interpretation, absent some very good reason otherwise. And I am decidedly not convinced that the majority's facile 'trump' via the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) works, because, among other reasons, the supposed tension relied upon does not exist."
Small hope indeed as the onslaught against medical marijuana continues on all government levels across the country.
N.Y. judge battling cancer makes case for medical marijuana
Who Would Be Worse For Medical Marijuana: Obama or Romney?
Sadly it looks like the 2012 U.S. Presidential election is going to be between President Obama and Mitt Romney. If you are a medical marijuana patient you probably see this as a depressing outcome, and you’re right.
We already know President Obama’s feelings on the matter. He used to be in favor of not using federal resources to override state law, but he has since altered his feelings on the issue. Mitt Romney is a Republican who has said in the past he opposes medical marijuana and even gets snippy when someone brings it up in his presence (http://www.thcfinder.com/marijuana-blog/politics/2012/05/medical-marijuana-is-an-important-issue-mitt-romney).
While pre-President Obama seemed to have a common sense grasp on the issue, Romney clearly has given it no thought whatsoever and simply parrots what conservatives have told him to say. The odds of a President Romney doing something positive about medical marijuana (especially in a first term when his base will have him by the nugs, so to speak) couldn’t be any worse. You’re more likely to buy a winning Powerball ticket while being struck by lightning than to see President Romney lift a finger for medical cannabis patients.
So this leaves us with President Obama – unless Gary Johnson makes a miracle run to the White House. Things in the first term have been bad, there’s no doubt about that. But some seem to believe that Obama’s second term will bring about the change we keep hearing about on medical marijuana. While there is some precedent for Presidents being bolder in their second terms, there is also precedent for 2nd terms to be incredible crash and burn events (see George W. Bush, Richard Nixon, Harry Truman and Abraham Lincoln – he won the war but got shot in the head and killed). Will he even have time to consider the matter in between bouts of golf and picking NCAA Tournament brackets?
Is there still hope with Obama? Unlikely, but since we can’t trust his word on the matter, it could really go either way. I guess that’s where the “Hope” comes in.
New Study Says Smoking Marijuana Helps Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
A new study out of the University of California, San Diego shows what several other studies have shown, and that is marijuana’s beneficial effect on the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.
The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and consisted of 30 MS patients – 63% of them women. Some patients were given cannabis while some received placebos.
Those who smoked cannabis scored lower on the spasticity scale and reported a 50% decrease on the pain scale. But researchers also found some short-term cognitive impairment – the “high” of medical grade marijuana in other words, something that can be remedied with low THC, high CBD strains and concentrates.
"Smoked cannabis was superior to placebo in symptom and pain reduction in participants with treatment-resistant spasticity," researchers said. "Future studies should examine whether different doses can result in similar beneficial effects with less cognitive impact."
Most regular medical marijuana users already know that amazing advances have been made in cannabis breeding and have produced potent medicines that lack much of the psychoactive effect of THC. But I guess there’s not a study on that yet, so we have to wait for it to be “official.”
Beyond that, this is yet another study that shows marijuana’s ability to combat pain. And it does so without the side effects and addictiveness of prescription pills. Medical marijuana opponents act as if pain is some sort of cop out, or like patients are faking it to get legal weed.
While I’m sure some do fake it, there are a lot of people who endure physical and mental anguish every day and they shouldn’t be looked down on or treated like criminals just because they prefer an herbal remedy to their symptoms.
Keep doing your cannabis studies; it’s all good news for patients.
Judge Says Medical Marijuana Loans Cannot Be Enforced
Two businesspeople in Arizona are out $500,000 in loans they gave to a medical marijuana dispensary in Colorado because a judge says medical marijuana loan contracts cannot be enforced.
In August 2010 Mark Haile and Michele Hammer loaned $250,000 a piece to Today’s Health Care II, expecting to be repaid like anyone who loans money. But in March of 2011 THC defaulted on the loan. When no money was forthcoming, Haile and Hammer sued.
Seemed like an open and shut case except for one thing. Marijuana is illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, so on April 17th of this year Superior Court Judge Michael McVey ruled that the plaintiffs were entitled to no money.
So marijuana prohibition screws two more people in an ever-growing list. This will also have the effect of drying up medical marijuana loans – not that there were many places for that to start with. And the economics of the medical marijuana industry grow even smaller.
Haile and Hammer’s lawyer was surprised by the verdict, but THC’s lawyer was not. "It's a classic supremacy issue--federal versus state," William Kozub said. "Take the marijuana out of it. Just make it a regular commercial dispute for something that's illegal under federal law. It's that simple. Drug lords from Colombia cannot come to court and say 'They sold me bad cocaine.’”
Quite a smug comment, but he did win so I guess some of that is to be expected. And I would expect THC to be shunned in the marijuana and business community as the bad investment they are. But it’s a shame that marijuana prohibition not only ruins lives and enriches criminals, but its economic impact is immense. Resources wasted, tax money lost, job-growth suppressed and investment opportunities drying up.
Truly a shame.
State of Arizona Now Taking Medical Marijuana Dispensary Applications
Between now and May 25th at 5 p.m. local time, The Arizona Department of Health Services will be taking applications for medical marijuana dispensaries.
Under the state’s medical marijuana law there are supposed to be 126 dispensaries, but lawsuits and other delays have stalled progress. Hopefully now things can get moving at a better pace. It’s important for patients to be able to grow their own, but there can’t be full access without dispensaries.
Those applying for permits to operate dispensaries must pay a $5,000 fee, only $1,000 of which will be returned if they are not approved. Applicants must not be able to write medical marijuana recommendations and not have certain felonies on their record, among other stipulations.
If approved, an operator can have up to 5 dispensaries. State officials estimate they will end up approving about 70 to 80 applications which will be spread evenly throughout the state. There are now more than 22,000 legal MMJ patients in Arizona, with about 85% having requested permission to grow their own.
After applicants are approved sometime this summer and are in operation, they will be able to grow their own cannabis and/or buy it from approved dispensaries, caregivers and patients.
Things have moved slowly in AZ, especially with Governor Jan Brewer doing everything she could to stall forward momentum. But it now seems patients will have full medical marijuana access by the fall. This makes patients in Arizona more fortunate than those in most other states.
Of course, we will see how long their fortune lasts since 126 dispensaries means 126 new targets for the federal government to threaten and/or raid. And as long as things stay the way they are at the federal level, you can bet Arizona will find itself in the crosshairs eventually.
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