How Does Medical Marijuana in AZ Affect Employers?
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, April, 25th 2011 by THCFinder
PHOENIX - Medical marijuana is about to become a reality in Arizona as dispensaries set up for business, doctors write out prescriptions and patients apply for cards to use medical marijuana.
But how does this affect employers?
What rights do they have concerning workers who may have been prescribed medical marijuana?
Many medical marijuana advocates liked the wording of Prop 203, which stated that employers could not discriminate against medical marijuana card holders -- even if they had a positive drug test -- as long as they weren't impaired on the job.
A new bill has passed that seems to further that position, but it also tells employers what they can do if they suspect drug abuse among employees.
After Prop 203 passed in November allowing pot for certain patients in our state, employers were put on notice they would have to follow regulations regarding employees or potential employees who legally light up.
John Alan Doran is a labor attorney. He told FOX 10 that legislation that passed this week will help clear up the matter for Arizona's business owners as far as drug testing and impairment on the job are concerned.
“You have to have other forms of reasonable suspicion coupled with a positive test result when you’re dealing with a cardholder. It does lay it out for cardholders, but there’s still a fair amount of ambiguity,” Doran said.
That reasonable suspicion, according to HB 2541, is called a “good faith belief” that an employee may be high on the job, and that is not allowed.
But a positive drug test for medical marijuana cardholders doesn't mean they're guilty of doing anything wrong either.
“Everything that’s illegal in the first place is still illegal. The key for 2541 was to make clear that you can’t retaliate against an employee for being a cardholder. But at the end of the day, an employee can’t bring it to work and can’t be impaired at work,” Doran said.
HB 2541 is waiting for Gov. Jan Brewer’s signature or for her to let it pass into law without a signature.
Patient Application Weekly Report - Arizona Medical Marijuana Program, Week of April 14 to April 20, 2011: www.azdhs.gov
Two Medical Marijuana Patients to Surrender May 2nd for 5-Year Federal Prison Sentences
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, April, 25th 2011 by THCFinder
SACRAMENTO, Calif. April 25, 2011 -- Medical marijuana patients Dr. Mollie Fry and her husband Dale Schafer are scheduled to surrender to federal authorities on May 2nd, both forced to serve 5-year prison sentences. Fry, who is a physician and breast cancer survivor, and Schafer, an attorney, maintained full compliance with state law, but were arrested and convicted without a medical marijuana defense under President George W. Bush. They appealed their sentence under the Obama administration, which it vigorously fought in the Ninth Circuit. Fry and Schafer's sentences were upheld in November and in March they were ordered to surrender to federal authorities on May 2nd.
"It's unconscionable that President Obama would force medical marijuana patients like Fry and Schafer to go to prison for 5 years despite not violating any state laws," decried Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, the country's leading medical marijuana patient advocacy group. "Fry and Schafer should not be spending one day in prison, let alone 5 years, for what they did."
Fry and Schafer, who live with their family in Cool, a small town in El Dorado County, California, were raided by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 2001, despite approval from local law enforcement to cultivate medical marijuana. Nothing happened in the case until June 2005 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Gonzales v. Raich that federal marijuana laws could be enforced even against state-compliant patients. Two weeks later, Fry and Schafer were charged with manufacturing and conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana. Both defendants were denied a medical defense despite their adherence to state law and were ultimately convicted in 2007. In order to obtain the mandatory minimum 5-year sentence, the government added up multiple years of harvests to arrive at more than 100 plants.
A clemency petition was filed last week and sent to President Obama in an effort to avoid or shorten their imprisonment. "On behalf of Dr. Fry and her five children," read the petition filed by Fry's attorney Laurence Lichter. "I beseech you to release Judge Damrell and others from participating in this tragic result not by pardoning her behavior but by commuting her sentence to one that does not involve the brutality of incarceration." The government has already harshly punished Fry and Schafer by revoking both their licenses to practice. "My parents don't deserve to go to prison," said Heather Schafer, the couple's oldest daughter and a mother herself. "It's incredible that President Obama would spend precious taxpayer dollars to lock up patients despite their compliance with state law."
Despite his commitment to not use Justice Department resources "to try to circumvent state laws on this issue" and a formal policy change in October 2009, President Obama has conducted more than 100 aggressive SWAT-style raids in at least 5 states, resulting in more than 30 new federal prosecutions. President Obama has also continued to vigorously prosecute his predecessor's cases -- like Fry and Schafer -- rather than remanding them to state court where defendants have a chance to defend themselves.
A coordinated day of action is planned for Monday, May 2nd, when Fry and Schafer are scheduled to surrender to federal authorities. In Sacramento, their family and supporters will rally at the federal courthouse. A press conference will be held in front of the courthouse that day at 1:15pm, preceding Fry and Schafer's scheduled 2pm surrender. A rally will also take place at Noon the same day in Washington, DC outside the Justice Department.
Medical Marijuana Users Become Legal: Nearly 600 People Approved, Mostly for Chronic Pain
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Fri, April, 22nd 2011 by THCFinder
Most people approved to use marijuana legally in Arizona complain of chronic pain related to back problems, severe headaches, injuries or arthritis, new stats show.
The Department of Health Services is keeping close track of nearly every facet of the program, and will also soon release the number of recommendations for medical weed that are being written by each physician. The names of the doctors won't be released, but the public will known whether physicians are recommending pot across the board, or if it's just a few adventurous doctors taking the plunge.
As of yesterday, 718 have applied to the DHS for medical marijuana cards, and 579 were approved. The latter, once they receive their cards in a few days, will be able to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, grow up to 12 plants (for now) and buy products from the marijuana dispensaries when they open this fall.
More than three-quarters of the applicants are men, and 20 percent of all applicants were between the ages of 18 and 30. (No one under 18 has applied.)
Chronic pain was listed as the qualifying condition in 85 percent of cases, though some patients reported multiple conditions. Six percent of applicants have cancer, while 1 percent have HIV or AIDS.
Medical Cannabis prescribed mostly for aches, pains
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Thu, April, 21st 2011 by THCFinder
The vast majority of about 64,000 people authorized to use marijuana as medicine have unspecified ailments that cause severe and chronic pain, muscle spasms and nausea, state data obtained by the Free Press show.
And just 55 doctors certified about 45,000 patients -- 71% of all the authorized medical pot users.
In all, 2,197 doctors wrote at least one certification for a patient asking for marijuana approval.
The Michigan Department of Community Health data, obtained by the Free Press, is the first peek at what has happened under the state's new medical marijuana law.
The top nonspecific ailments cited by medical marijuana patients were severe and chronic pain, muscle spasms and nausea.
Of specific diseases, cancer was the most cited. It was given as a reason for certification by 1,407 patients (2.2%).
The numbers come from a broader report the department compiled on the medical marijuana law that is expected to be released within days.
Local Group Prepares For Arkansas Medical Marijuana Petition
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, April, 20th 2011 by THCFinder
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansans for Compassionate Care have launched a ballot initiative to allow sick and dying patients to have legal access -- with a doctor's prescription -- to medical marijuana in Arkansas.
On Monday, Arkansas Atty. Gen. Dustin McDaniel approved "The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act" as an appropriate November 2012 ballot title.
Arkansans for Compassionate Care is working towards the legalization of medical marijuana. They are not working towards decriminalizing the drug for everyone.
"We're talking about a physician who would be recommending medical marijuana for someone with cancer or AIDS. So you know, this is a serious issue. A doctor's credibility is on the line, if he gives it to somebody who doesn't need it. So this is only for sick and dying patients," said Arkansans for Compassionate Care Campaign Director Ryan Denham.
Denham said the point is to make sure doctors and patients don’t live in fear of discussing marijuana as a viable treatment option.
"It reduces spasticity for multiple sclerosis patients, it helps prevent seizures for epileptic patients, it reduces inner ocular pressure for glaucoma patients. It's an anti-nauseate, so it's really good for people that have cancer and people that are on chemotherapy. It helps them regain their appetite. It helps them sleep," Denham said.
But some people we talked to said even with a doctor’s prescription, marijuana is not medication.
"This is not California. This is a safe town. You start promoting that and legalizing that for medical purposes and then it's going to lead to something else and then something else and then it's going to be worse than what it is," said Fayetteville resident Roger Murphy.
Denham said the law is highly regulated to avoid pitfalls. The state would be allowed to have a maximum of 30 non-for profit dispensaries and if a patient lived more than five miles from a dispensary they would be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants.
The petition needs 60,000 signatures by July 2012 to make the November ballot.
Montana Gov. vetoes bill tossing medical marijuana
Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Mon, April, 18th 2011 by THCFinder
Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer last week vetoed legislation that would have overturned the state’s medical marijuana law. He said he thought the law needed some work but that he could not let the Legislature toss out a law approved by 62 percent of Montana voters.
“I issue this veto of HB 161 because I do not believe it is right that 91 legislators overturn the will of the people of Montana,” he wrote in a letter to legislators.
“We were very pleased that the governor stood up for patients and for the people of Montana and did not let the Legislature get the best of him,” said Jim Gingery, executive director of the Montana Medical Growers Association.
“Having twice been elected to statewide office, I bring to this issue an ever-abiding respect for Montana’s electoral process,” Schweitzer wrote. I know it is the people of Montana I serve, and so it is the people of Montana I listen to as I execute the laws of this state day in and day out.”
He went on to write that law as currently interpreted and enforced is broader than the people intended. “However, balancing that fact with the medical needs of Montana citizens, I believe the proper resolution of this unanticipated outcome is not outright repeal, but amendment to serve the original intent–to provide a medicinal option for Montanans ‘to alleviate the symptoms or effects of the patient’s debilitating medical condition.’”
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