Brave Navy Veteran Fights for Medical Cannabis Patients Rights to Housing

Our veterans and their families sacrifice so much for our nation that it is heartbreaking to hear of anytime that they aren’t treated fairly. Unfortunately, Mary Cease, a Navy veteran, is facing housing discrimination because of her medical cannabis use because she was honest about her use of medical cannabis, legal under state law. Fortunately, this Navy veteran is a warrior who is fighting for her rights in an effort that will hopefully lead to protections for all medical cannabis patients. USA Today reports on how Ms. Cease “has been denied federally subsidized housing because she admitted on her application to using a portion of her Social Security payments to pay for cannabis”:

On Feb. 13, a panel of three Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judges met at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and heard an appeal by Harrisburg-based attorneys on behalf of Mary. She sat in the room and watched.

“I’m doing it because it’s not just for me,” Mary said. “It’s for thousands of other people facing the same problem. I’m setting the precedent.”

Her lawyers argue that under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act discrimination for using the medicine is prohibited, and the only class of people prohibited from residing in federally subsidized housing is sex offenders.

It’s a shame that any patient must feel that they have to hide their medicinal use of cannabis. It is a tragedy for patients battling severe and debilitating medical conditions to face losing their housing over a safe and effective medicine recommended by their doctor. Hopefully, Mary Cease wins her case and help not only herself, but medical patients across her state and the nation. Her case, win or lose, is definitely another step in our fight for freedom as the cannabis community continues to work step by step for true freedom and equality.

Florida Senate Bill Attempts to Cap Medical Cannabis THC Percentage

Yesterday I blogged about a bill introduced in Arizona that would cap the THC of medical cannabis at 2%, warning that such a move would likely spread to other states. Well, today it’s being reported that a Florida Senate bill will cap medical cannabis at 10% for patients under 21 if passed by the Sunshine State’s legislature and signed by Governor Ron DeSantis. Not as ridiculous as the proposed 2% limit introduced in Arizona, the 10% limit is still an unnecessary barrier placed between patients and their physicians, as advocates told the Miami Herald:

Barry Gordon, a Venice-based medical marijuana doctor, said the amendment targets the “most vulnerable” population, and that physicians will find the concept to be “absurd.” Gordon treats about 30 pediatric patients, and says they all have varying needs when it comes to THC levels. But that is a decision a doctor makes with a patient or parent, and Tallahassee need not be involved, he said.

“Every doctor that practices medical cannabis responsibly discusses brain development with the parent,” said Gordon, who operates the largest cannabis clinic in the state “This gets in the way of the doctor-patient relationship.”

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John Morgan, an Orlando personal injury attorney who bankrolled the constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, alleged the cap is “an attempt to help the pharmaceutical industry.”

“Are they banning Oxycontin levels to people to 21 and under? Are they banning Percocet or Xanax?” he said. “The opioid epidemic was created on the backs of our children.”

Further illustrating how these THC caps are a nationwide threat to the cannabis community the Herald reported on attempts to limit THC in Colorado, Alaska, and Washington State. Everyone concerned about patients rights needs to spread the word and urge friends and family in Florida to contact their legislators to oppose these harmful and unnecessary THC limits.

A 2% THC Cap on Medical Cannabis Introduced in Arizona

It’s a shame that the rights of medical cannabis patients are still coming under attack, even years after states have successfully implemented medical programs that have helped save and improve lives while benefiting state coffers. These harmful attacks must be monitored and fought by all members of the cannabis community for the sake of the patients impacts and to prevent these assaults on patients’ rights from being enacted in more states. Very alarmingly, Arizona lawmakers have introduced a bill that will ridiculously cap THC at 2% on medical cannabis as Ganjapreneur reported:

Arizona lawmakers last week introduced HCR 2045, which aims to cap the THC potency of medical cannabis products at just two percent, AZMarijuana.com reports; the bill is co-sponsored by 15 lawmakers.

Specifically, the proposal would revise the bill to read as follows:

“A registered nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary may not dispense to a qualifying patient or a designated caregiver medical marijuana with a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of more than two percent.” — Excerpt from HCR 2045

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If the changes are passed, Arizona‘s more than 200,000 registered medical cannabis patients would be either shoehorned into either using low-potency medicine or buying from out-of-state dispensaries or on the unregulated marketplace. Voter-approved initiatives in Arizona, however — like the one that established the state’s medical cannabis program — are difficult for lawmakers to change.

Please spread the word about how harmful such a change would be for patients as they need access to higher THC limits for a variety of reasons, including reducing their severe pain. While 2% THC cannabis and products may be fine for some patients, a vast majority of patients need higher limits. While Reefer Madness prohibitionists often proclaim that “today’s” cannabis contains too much THC, Marinol, federally legal synthetic THC available by prescription, is 100% THC. If you know folks in Arizona, urge them to contact their legislators.

NORML: Congress Needs to Stop Trump’s Plan to Derail State Cannabis Laws

Support for medical cannabis and states’ rights to choose their own path on cannabis policy has increasingly become a bipartisan issue. Virtually every major presidential candidate during the last two elections has stated support for states’ rights to legalize and regulate cannabis, particularly for medical use.

While President Trump’s administration caused some alarms when he appointed Jeff “Good People Don’t Smoke Marijuana” Sessions as Attorney General and tension was heightened when Sessions repealed President Obama’s Cole Memo policy that mandated a federal hands-off approach regarding state cannabis programs, the Trump administration has maintained a states’ rights positions. Unfortunately, alarm bells have gone once more after Trump’s latest budget proposal okays federal agents trampling the will of state voters that have legalized medical cannabis.

Justin Strekal, Political Director for NORML, writes that “Congress should halt Trump’s plan to upend states’ medical marijuana laws” in The HIll:

In his recently released 2021 federal budget proposal, the president has called for ending existing federal protections that limit the federal government from interfering in the state-sanctioned regulation of medical cannabis. Doing so would place thousands of medical cannabis providers and the millions of patients who rely on them at risk for criminal prosecution.

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Most recently, Marc Lotter, the director of strategic communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, stated in an interview that the administration is intent on keeping marijuana illegal under federal law. “I think what the president is looking at is looking at this from a standpoint of a parent of a young person to make sure that we keep our kids away from drugs,” he said. “They need to be kept illegal, that is the federal policy. I think the president has been pretty clear on his views on marijuana at the federal level, I know many states have taken a different path.”

Let’s be clear — the policy that the administration wants to keep in place is the same failed policy that has existed since 1970, which opines that the cannabis plant should remain classified in the same category as heroin and possesses no accepted medical value. This position doesn’t comport with either public opinion or scientific reality

Mr. Stekal is right, of course, Congress needs to ensure that state medical cannabis programs should be protected from federal interference. Actually, we need to go one step further and ensure that adult use programs are protected as well. The people have spoken. Cannabis legalization is here to stay and this administration, and future administration need to respect and follow the will of the voters. Or pay political consequences.

Reefer Madness Group Calls Cannabis Consumers’ Blood “Tainted”

Reefer Madness rhetoric has caused so much hurt and trauma over the past century, finding ways to demonize the cannabis community. Racism has been utilized over the decades, leading to people of color disproportionately feeling the brunt of the Drug War, but virtually no one is immune to Reefer Madness nonsense as unscientific fear mongering regarding cannabis making people go crazy has been a common trope over the years. In the year 2020, you wouldn’t think that prohibitionists wouldn’t fine yet another offensive way to demean the cannabis community, but Parents Opposed to Pot has found one, declaring that the blood of those that utilize cannabis is “tainted.”

KMTV triggered this latest nonsense by reporting that Nevada Made Marijuana in Henderson was bringing a mobile blood donation vehicle to its store:

The cannabis business said it hopes to not only give back to the community through the blood drive but to also raise awareness to the fact that cannabis users can donate life-saving blood.

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The dispensary quotes the Red Cross with the following: “The American Red Cross does not test for THC, and legal or illegal use of marijuana is not a cause for blood donation deferral.”

Nevada Made Marijuana also says it hopes to break this stigma while being able to guide qualified cannabis-using donors to Nevada’s blood banks and donor services.

Maybe I shouldn’t be giving Parents Opposed to Pot, which declares itself a “nationwide group to educate about the dangers of marijuana expansion” any publicity, but I just felt that calling cannabis users’ blood “tainted” deserved exposure as anything that could unnecessarily reduce blood donations is rather dangerous. While it is frustrating to have to combat such Reefer Madness, I got a feeling that ludicrous rhetoric like this only helps our cause for legalization as it clearly demonstrates that our opponents are basing their beliefs on unfounded fears.

Featured Photo Credit: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

Medical Cannabis Worker Protection Bill Introduced in Hawaii

Last week news broke that a bill to protect the employment rights of medical cannabis patients was introduced in California, and a similar bill has been proposed in Hawaii. As we’ve seen with political elections of all types, winning begets winning, and advancements in one state will influence the actions of other states.

While it is great that we are ending criminal punishments for both adult-use and medical cannabis patients across the nation, there are still many ways that the cannabis community remains treated as second-class citizens, and employment rights are certainly one of the issues that still need to be addressed. The Boston Globe reported on the Hawaiian medical employment protection bill:

“Medical cannabis patients face significant stigma due to longstanding misperceptions regarding cannabis and its uses, fueled by a longstanding, costly ‘war on drugs’ that is disproportionately waged against those impacted by social detriments of health,” officials with the Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii said in a written testimony.

The legislation specifies that employers would be allowed to use a fit-for-duty test as a tool for medical cannabis users in potentially dangerous jobs.

It excludes law enforcement and corrections officers, firefighters, water safety officers, emergency medical workers, and any health care worker who might administer drugs to patients. Also excluded would be any employees who work with children, seniors or other vulnerable populations, employees who operate heavy equipment, and most truck employees or drivers.

It’s great to see state after state considering to pass  common sense legislation to prevent workplace discrimination of medical cannabis patients. It is a shame that people are losing job opportunities or even denying themselves a safe and effective medicine because they need to make a living. Step by step, let’s keep moving towards true equality for the cannabis community.

Featured photo credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

The NFL Moves Closer to Ending Cannabis Suspensions

I’m still flying high after my Kansas City Chiefs won their first Super Bowl in 50 years (which led to an eventful parade where someone smoked a joint on a horse, but I digress) and I’m ecstatic that the National Football League is moving towards a sensible cannabis policy that will stop suspending players for utilizing cannabis. There are many serious issues with the NFL, one being that traumatic brain injuries caused by the violent sport can lead to devastating effects for those that suffer those injuries, and tragically to innocent people harmed by those players as well. Also, addiction to painkillers can be a huge issue for players as their careers often depend upon their ability to perform through various injuries.

The evidence suggests that repeated traumatic brain injuries can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Sadly, CTE can lead to severe behavioral issues and dementia. Famously, former New England Patriots NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of murder and committed suicide while in prison, was found to have severe CTE and he was only 27 years of age.

The ability to utilize cannabis may benefit a lot of players who suffer from traumatic brain injuries and it will certainly be beneficial for them to have a less addictive and less deadly option to utilize over narcotics like OxyContin. Forbes reported on the potential agreement that will end suspensions for cannabis use:

National Football League players would no longer face the possibility of being suspended from games just for testing positive for marijuana under a proposed collective bargaining agreement approved by team owners and circulated to players on Thursday.

The new policy being floated for approval by the the NFL Players Association would also reduce the number of players subject to testing for cannabis and narrow the window when tests can be administered from the current four months to just two weeks at the start of training camp.

The three-page summary of key terms of the union deal also includes an increase in the threshold for positive THC metabolite tests from 35 to 150 nanograms.

There are some details and votes to be completed before this new cannabis suspension policy goes into effect, but it is great to see the NFL finally start advancing with the times. Love or hate sportsballs, leagues like the NFL play a huge part in American culture. While we advance legalization across the nation and word, improving our community’s stance with influential segments of our society is a part of our battle for freedom and equality.

Medical Cannabis Worker Protection Bill Filed in California

The cannabis community has come a long way in recent years, especially when it comes to passing medical patient protections and reducing criminal penalties. We’ve also implemented sales programs that have created thousands of jobs and generated millions upon millions of new revenue dollars.

There is still a lot of work left to accomplish, one being the need to protect cannabis users from discrimination for utilizing cannabis on their own free time, in ways that doesn’t disrupt their job performance in any way. A California legislator has taken the first step towards protecting worker rights for the cannabis community by introducing a bill that prohibits workplace discrimination of medical cannabis patients, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) is taking a first step at addressing the issue. He introduced legislation Friday that would require employers in both the public and private sectors to accommodate workers and job applicants who use marijuana for medical purposes, which was legalized in California in 1996.

“To be discriminated against by your employer because of the type of medicine you use is both inhumane and wrong,” Bonta said. “Medical cannabis, as recommended by a doctor, should be given a similar reasonable accommodation as all prescription drugs.”

Bonta’s bill would not apply to “safety-sensitive” workers required by federal law to be drug free, including airline pilots, police officers and truck drivers, nor would it cover employers with federal contractors who are required to maintain drug-free workplaces.

According to the LA Times, Bonta pointed out that 16 other states, including Arizona, New York and Illinois, have already adopted worker protections similar to his proposal. After passing protections for medical cannabis patients, legal states, including my home state of Oregon, need to implement policies protecting all workers from losing their jobs over cannabis, when utilizing the substance doesn’t hinder their workplace performance whatsoever. Step by step, let’s keep improving our states’ laws and policies, until we are all truly equal and free.

Featured Photo Credit: Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance

Sneak Peak of American Hemp Farmer: Adventures and Misadventures in the Cannabis Trade

Investigative journalist and best-selling author turned hemp farmer Doug Fine is one of the most important voices in the cannabis and hemp communities today. And yes, full disclosure, Doug is a personal friend of mine, but I’ve seen the man talk the talk and walk the walk. Literally. He wears hemp from head to toe while discussing cannabis and hemp in ways that garners the praise of true believers like Willie Nelson (who wrote a blurb for Fine’s book Hemp Bound) to legislators that have joined the revolution to grandmothers in Middle America that just discovered how CBD tinctures and salves help their arthritis pain.

Bringing his journalism chops honed writing for the Washington Post, New York Times, and NPR to his firsthand accounts of moving his family towards sustainability in Farewell, My Subaru and depictions of the cannabis and hemp industries in Too High to Fail and Hemp Bound, Fine travels the globe promoting the future of cannabis and hemp in ways that appeal to the masses. With American Hemp Farmer: Adventures and Misadventures in the Cannabis Trade, Doug Fine brings an insight and comedic twist that only he can to entertaining tales that are informative to those in the know and persuasive to those that might be on the fence about the need to promote the cannabis hemp plant.

With detailed stories of hemp farming and advocacy in Oregon, Colorado, Vermont, New Mexico, and Colville Tribal Land in Washington State, Fine paints a beautiful picture of using land, resources, knowledge and people-power, to grow something great, not only for the hemp farmers, but for our planet at large. With information that will certainly appeal to those in the cannabis hemp trade, Fine goes above and beyond in his storytelling, helping place the plant and the industry in the proper light for our movement towards sustainability and prosperity. American Hemp Farmer goes on sale on April 28, 2020. You can learn more about Doug at www.dougfine.com.

The American Bar Association Passes Resolutions Supporting Cannabis Banking Rights

No matter your stance on legalization, everyone that wants safe neighborhoods should support legal banking services for state-regulated cannabis businesses. The lack of access to banking services severely hinders the ability of entrepreneurs to conduct business, pay taxes, and expand operations. Along with the despicable 280e IRS tax code, access to normal banking services is a top policy change needed to allow the cannabis industry to thrive. As with most issues, banking reform is needed most by small craft cannabis boutique’s like Kind Leaf, which don’t have the deep pockets of multinational corporations.

Thankfully, we are seeing great momentum for normal banking services for the cannabis industry. The SAFE Banking Act has passed the House of Representatives, awaiting some movement in the Senate. As Marijuana Moment reports, the American Bar Association added its voice to the cause:

The group’s House of Delegates voted in favor of proposals endorsing pending federal legislation to protect banks that service cannabis businesses and calling for a clarification of rules to ensure that lawyers will not be penalized for representing clients in cases concerning state-legal marijuana activity.

Under the banking resolution, ABA “urges Congress to enact legislation to clarify and ensure that it shall not constitute a federal crime for banking and financial institutions to provide services to businesses and individuals, including attorneys, who receive compensation from the sale of state-legalized cannabis or who provide services to cannabis-related legitimate business acting in accordance with state, territorial, and tribal laws.”

ABA added that “such legislation should clarify that the proceeds from a transaction involving activities of a legitimate cannabis-related business or service provider shall not be considered proceeds from an unlawful activity solely because the transaction involves proceeds from a legitimate cannabis-related business or service provider, or because the transaction involves proceeds from legitimate cannabis-related activities.”

It is great to see some allies coming around to help out the cannabis community. Let’s keep the pressure up and momentum going. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is currently the Senate Banking Committee Chair that will determine the fate of the SAFE Act. Please contact him and let him know that you support banking services for cannabis businesses and spread the word.