Medical Marijuana

ACLU bids to reinstate suit over Walmart worker's medical marijuana firing

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, April, 27th 2011 by THCFinder
The American Civil Liberties Union today asked a federal appeals court to revive its lawsuit that claims Walmart wrongfully fired a Battle Creek employee who used medical marijuana to treat a brain tumor and cancer.
U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker dismissed the ACLU’s lawsuit in February, holding that Michigan’s medical marijuana law does not require companies to accommodate employees who are medical marijuana patients, nor does it prohibit them from firing employees for drug use.
But in a filing today with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, the ACLU argued that Jonker got it wrong. Specifically, the ACLU argued that Jonker ignored the text of the state’s medical marijuana law that prohibits businesses from firing patients who use marijuana in accordance with state law. The ACLU also argued that the case belongs in state court where the ACLU originally filed it.
The employee in this case is Joseph Casias, a 2008 Associate of the Year at a Walmart in Battle Creek who used marijuana to treat pain associated with an inoperable brain tumor and cancer. Casias was fired from his job after testing positive for marijuana in 2009, which led to the ACLU’s lawsuit.
The ACLU argued that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act, passed by voters in 2008, protects medical marijuana patients from “disciplinary action by a business.” Moreover, Casias never ingested marijuana while at work, and never worked while under the influence of marijuana, the group argued.
“The lower court’s ruling failed to uphold the will of Michigan voters, who clearly wanted to protect medical marijuana and facilitate its use by very sick people like Joseph Casias,” Scott Michelman, staff attorney with the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project, said in a statement. “No one should ever have to choose between adequate pain relief and gainful employment, but Walmart forced Joseph to pay a stiff and unfair price for using a medicine that has had a life-changing positive effect for him.”
WalMart defended its decision to fire Casias.
“This is just an unfortunate situation all around, and we’re sympathetic to Mr. Casias’s condition,” said WalMart spokesman Greg Rossiter, noting that the decision to fire Casias was a safety issue. “Walmart has to consider the overall safety of our customers and our associates, including Mr. Casias. When we have to make a difficult decision like the one we did, ultimately the issue for us is the ability of our associates to do their jobs safely.”


Colo. Medical Marijuana Bill Catches Attention Of Feds

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, April, 27th 2011 by THCFinder
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Under provisions of Colorado House Bill 1043, medical marijuana could be licensed, grown and distributed legally in the state of Colorado, but the federal law disagrees.
Federal law prohibits the manufacture, distribution or possession with intent to distribute any controlled substance, including marijuana.
"They do not consider state employees who conduct activities under state medical marijuana laws to be immune to liability under federal law," said Mike Saccone, communications director for the Office of the Attorney General of Colorado.
The enforcement of the federal law would be focused not on the patients, but the growers and distributors.
"Although they made a decision not to prosecute individuals who are seriously ill who are using medical marijuana in line with state law, they still could prosecute individuals who are involved in the distribution or the trafficking of marijuana," said Saccone.
Local owners of dispensaries said, that in the beginning, the state law sounded good, but now the federal law is worrisome.
"Does it worry us? It's in the back of everybody's mind. If I could press rewind in time, I don't know if I'd be here anymore," said a local medical marijuana dispensary owner.
Colorado House Bill 1043 is pending in the General Assembly and the provisions of the bill could have major effects on dispensaries.
The Office of the Attorney General of Colorado said that these issues will be brought to the General Assembly in the next few days.


Medical marijuana patients, dispensaries head for black market following federal raids

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Wed, April, 27th 2011 by THCFinder

This is a sad solution patients and dispensary owners are even considering with raids continueing. Why does everyone forget that prohibition was put forth once and failed misreably.... 


In Montana, only 25 percent of medical marijuana businesses raided earlier this year have re-opened, prompting some patients to turn to street dealers as a safer way to get marijuana, according to MSNBC.


Some patients no longer trust the state to keep their information confidential, while others simply think legal businesses are now more likely to be raided than street dealers are.
In fact, one dispensary owner says he will never re-open a legal pot business but is thinking of getting involved in the street trade himself. “I’ll never pay taxes again,” he exclaimed.
From the story:
The uncertainty has left medical marijuana users wondering what’s coming next. Some who lost their caregivers after the raids have found other providers, a transaction that must be registered with the state.
But others have held back from switching or renewing their cards because they don’t want to leave a record with the state. They are fearful they may be targeted as criminals if the state law changes or if federal prosecutors decide to go after them.
A Bozeman patient said he won’t register with the state for just that reason and is buying marijuana from street dealers instead. The man spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is buying pot illegally.
“This is scary more than anything. You go from being a normal person to being a criminal,” the patient said. “But if I get it from a kid on the corner, it’s less likely for me to get in trouble buying it that way.”
“It is really sad that the federal government is trying to drive this back underground,” said Denver attorney Rob Corry, who represents medical marijuana interests.
Commenting on the letter from Department of Justice attorneys to the governor of Washington, wherein the feds declared that even state employees complying with directives from the Legislature may be prosecuted for violating the Controlled Substances Act, Corry said he could not predict if the feds would target Colorado next.
“No one knows. There is a certain randomness to the feds’ actions. There does not seem to be any overriding principle that the government can point to as the basis for their actions.
“Obama said in 2009 that he would devote no resources to prosecution of medical marijuana cases, and now, here we are. Some say the day is coming very quickly that they will move in to shut down every medical marijuana business in Colorado.
“It is federal arrogance, in my opinion,” he said. “I don’t get it. I don’t get how in an age of global terror and tanking economies that they can dedicate any resources to a plant.”
At one time, at least, Obama seemed to agree.


Medical Marijuana Bill Could Pass in Illinois

Category: Medical Marijuana | Posted on Tue, April, 26th 2011 by THCFinder
Although a piece of legislation that would legalize medical marijuana in Illinois failed by a slim margin last December, a Republican leader in the House has shifted his support, raising the chances that the bill could pass.  Tom Cross, the House Minority Leader, announced last week that he would support legalization.  His change of heart, he said, was because he spoke with some people who use medical marijuana, including a disabled veteran.  
He said that the key to the legislation's success was that it limited medical marijuana access to people with particularly painful diseases, like cancer, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.  The bill limits each user to two ounces of usable marijuana or six cannabis plants, users cannot drive within 12 hours of smoking, and as Cross pointed out, would only be accessible to people with "debilitating medical conditions."  The Illinois Department of Public Health would also be instructed to disseminate information about the health risks associated with marijuana abuse.
Cross's support was disturbing for David E. Smith of the Illinois Family Institute, who wrote an editorial to the Chicago Tribune which concluded, "Medical marijuana is bad policy, bad for families, bad for society, and will cost the state more money for drug rehab."
But some drug experts pointed out that marijuana could replace other drugs that are commonly used to treat chronic pain, like Oxycontin and Vicodin.  Both are addictive and lethal if overdosed, neither of which have proven to be issues with marijuana.


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: 


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.



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