Medical Marijuana

Bill on medical marijuana passes Illinois committee vote

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Thu, March, 10th 2011 by THCFinder

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. • The Illinois business community worries that, under the state's latest medical marijuana proposal, employers would have no authority to enforce drug-free workplace codes.

Todd Maisch, vice president of governmental affairs for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, told an Illinois House committee on Wednesday that the measure would create a loophole for employees to use marijuana without penalties.

Maisch said he envisions problems involving a worker "who knows a little bit about the law to say, 'You know what, my cousin is under the care of medical marijuana and we were just hanging out together, watching the big ballgame, and consequently that's where I came under'" the influence.

Legislation approved by a human services committee Wednesday includes language specifically aimed at calming employer concerns.

State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, the bill's sponsor, pointed out: "This act shall in no way limit an employer's ability to discipline an employee for ingesting cannabis in the workplace or for working while under the influence of cannabis."

Chairman of the committee, state Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said that employers should be just as worried about monitoring prescription medication use. Debate on how legalizing cannabis for medical purposes would affect the state's business community will continue as the bill advances to the House floor.

Changes approved Wednesday include establishing a database of users that allows law enforcement to monitor patients, removing the "grow-your-own" option from the bill and establishing nonprofit dispensaries to distribute controlled doses of the drug.

The committee approved the measure Wednesday by a 6-5 vote.

The bill is HB30.



Medical Marijuana Discrimination Bill Passes House, Heads to State Senate

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, March, 9th 2011 by THCFinder

Arizona's new medical marijuana law protects qualified patients from discrimination by their employers, a progressive feature that sets it apart from similar laws in other states.

legislative bill we told you about last month aims to dilute that protection, however, and it has solid support among state lawmakers.

The Patient Discrimination Act, is it might come to be called, gives employers immunity they don't need from lawsuits that might result from the firing or reassignment of a worker who uses medical marijuana or any other illegal drug. Introduced by Representative Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, and crafted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, HB 2541 expands anexisting law that protects drug-testing employers from litigation.

The bill passed the House on Monday with a 56-3 vote.


At least the bill's latest version ditches the part about banning the use of medical marijuana in a "condominium or planned community common area that is open to use by the public." And, though Proposition 203 was the motivation for Yee's bill, it doesn't necessarily discriminate against marijuana: It would apply to any legal or illegal drug that might impair an employee.

Still, Yee's effort to please the state's employers clearly paints a big, green target on medical weed users. Employers would be immune from wrongful termination lawsuits as long as they had a "good faith belief" that the employee had used or possessed drugs, or was impaired, at a workplace or during work hours. It allows any worker suspected of ongoing "involvement with drugs" to be put on unpaid leave or reassigned, with no legal recourse.

It almost seems like this bill would entitle an anti-pot employer to mess with anyone believed to be carrying a medical marijuana card.

The voter-approved Prop 203 was never intended to allow impairment on the job, but defines the situation more narrowly than Yee's bill. No discrimination by employers is allowed "unless the patient used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana on the premises of the place of employment or during the hours of employment."



Montana and Michigan voters still support medical marijuana

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, March, 8th 2011 by THCFinder

Despite efforts in Montana and Michigan to repeal or alter medical marijuana laws, recent polls show voters in both states still support the practice.

A February survey of 2,212 Montana voters by Public Policy Polling found that 63% still back marijuana for medical purposes. Most voters, however, also support stricter regulations under the law. The survey was funded by Patients & Families United, a Montana support group for patients who use medical marijuana.

The Montana House of Representatives voted Feb. 10 to repeal the state's 2004 voter-enacted law. House Speaker Mike Milburn, a Republican, said many patients approved for medical marijuana are not terminally ill, and that the law has created a growing illegal drug trade. At this article's deadline, the House measure had not gone to the Senate.

The Montana Medical Assn. had no comment on the repeal of the medical marijuana law in its state, a representative said. In general, the association's position on medical marijuana is that the drug should be used only in the safest, legally-approved way and "be subject to the same regulatory scrutiny as any other psychoactive drug with the potential for abuse." More research regarding the safety, dosage and effectiveness of medical marijuana is needed, the MMA said in a statement.

In Michigan, a January poll of 600 voters by the Marketing Research Group found that 61% of residents would vote again for the medical marijuana law enacted in 2008. The poll was funded by the Michigan Assn. of Compassion Centers, which advocates citizens' rights under the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act.

The Michigan State Medical Society said in a statement that it supports the use of cannabinoids for medical purposes by routes other than smoking. The society also urges further research and testing on the drug.



Washington workers await court's decision on protecting legal marijuana use

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, March, 8th 2011 by THCFinder

Among the questions left unanswered by Washington's medical-marijuana law: Can legal use of medical marijuana get you fired?

Thirteen years after voters approved its use, that question is likely to be answered by the Washington Supreme Court, which heard a test case on the issue last month.

It involves a woman fired by a Bremerton, Wash., call center in 2006 because she failed a pre-employment drug test but had a valid authorization from a doctor.

The woman, identified in court by the pseudonym Jane Roe, used marijuana at night to treat migraines. The call center, Teletech Customer Care, offered no evidence that the use impaired her ability to work.

Michael Subit, Jane Roe's Seattle attorney, argued before the state high court that such use is implicitly protected because voters legalized it. "It would flabbergast the average voter to think, 'I've been given this right but can fired for it anyway,' " he said.

Courts in other states, including Oregon and California, have ruled in favor of businesses in similar cases.

Washington business groups are watching the Jane Roe case closely, anxious that the court potentially could define medical-marijuana use as a disability and therefore protect patients from firing.

"There's only so often that we want Washington to be an outlier, to appear to be less competitive because we put obligation on employers that they wouldn't face elsewhere," said Timothy O'Connell, a Seattle employment lawyer speaking on behalf of the Association of Washington Business.

(Full story HERE)


Colleges keep pot bans despite states easing laws

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, March, 7th 2011 by THCFinder

As legislatures nationwide debate whether to legalize medical marijuana, colleges and universities in states where laws have been adopted say their campuses will remain drug-free.


The reason: Marijuana use and possession violates federal law, and colleges don't want to risk losing federal funding.
This year, 13 state legislatures are considering proposals to legalize medical marijuana, and four more are looking at bills, says Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that advocates loosening marijuana laws. Proposals to tighten or ease laws are pending in at least 10 of the 15 states, plus the District of Columbia, where medical marijuana is legal.
Colleges say they have no choice but to abide by the federal rules and keep marijuana off their campuses
•In New Jersey, where a medical-marijuana law passed last year, Rutgers University declined an invitation by the governor to grow and research medical marijuana.
•In Arizona, where a law passed in November, University of Arizona lawyers in January posted a notice saying anyone found with marijuana on campus "will continue to be subject to disciplinary action."
•In San Diego, the City Council approved in January a proposal that medical-marijuana dispensaries be located at least 1,000 feet from college campuses. "Dispensaries are not compatible with our educational mission," San Diego State University President Stephen Weber said in a letter to the council urging a buffer zone.
•In Illinois, where a bill to help medical-marijuana users was introduced in January, students on two campuses have run into roadblocks as they seek to create advocacy groups for changing marijuana laws.
After a steady decline in marijuana use since 2003, the percentage of college students who said they had used marijuana in the previous month jumped from 17.9% in 2008 to 20.1% in 2009, says the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey doesn't tie the rise to medical-marijuana legalization, but "highlighting (marijuana) as some kind of medicine has sent a terrible message to young people," says Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Some activists see legalizing medical marijuana as part of a larger strategy to decriminalize the drug.
At the University of Arkansas, where the chancellor last fall rejected a proposal to ease penalties for marijuana-related violations, students are developing a state campaign to legalize medical marijuana. "We decided to focus our efforts where we could accomplish some real policy changes," says Robert Pfountz, a past president of the campus chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.



N.J. patients, advocates criticize proposed rules on medical marijuana

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, March, 7th 2011 by THCFinder

TRENTON — For nearly two hours today, dozens of patients and their advocates — some through tears, others at the top of their lungs — vented their frustrations over the state's proposed rules for New Jersey's yet-to-launch medical marijuana program.

"You're getting hammered up there, aren't ya?'' Crohn's disease sufferer Stephen Cuspilich, of Southampton, told the state health department officials conducted the legally-required hearing on the proposed rules expected to take effect this summer.

Cuspilich questioned why the state would require doctors who recommend marijuana to take courses on drug addiction first, and treat marijuana more cautiously than morphine, which can kill.

"You're putting these flaming hoops and hurdles in front of everybody to get this medication — me and everyone else. We know what works for us and what doesn't work for us.'' 

"You need to stop thinking about the business of the law and think about the intent of the law, which is compassion,'' he said, eliciting applause.

(Full story HERE)



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