Tag: medical cannabis

This Must End. Another Military Veteran Fired for Medical Cannabis Usage

The use of medical cannabis, when legal under state law, should not be a fireable offense when there is no impairment on the job. Full stop. It’s maddening to see record-breaking support for cannabis legalization and yet the cannabis community still treated as second class citizens when it comes to employment, and a whole host of other issues. It is even more infuriating when medical cannabis patients that served our nation in the military fired without any proof that cannabis impaired them on the job whatsoever.

The case of Mike Hickman, a Florida marine vet and state-legal patient who fought in Iraq during Gulf Storm 30 years ago, is just the latest outrage. The Marion County School Board fired Hickman, a dean at the school, when he tested positive for cannabis after he was injured breaking up a fight at the school as the Orlando Sentinel reported:

The central Florida district offered to suspend Hickman, 51, if he agreed not to use medical marijuana in the future, but the 10-year employee refused. After an administrative judge upheld a previous superintendent’s recommendation that he be fired, the board acted.

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Hickman’s attorney, Mark Herdman, told the Ocala Star-Banner, “It is just another unfortunate decision handed down by the Marion County School Board to fire yet another good employee.” Hickman argued it was unfair that he legally could have kept using the opioid painkiller he took before switching to marijuana because it was more effective and has fewer side effects.

Chris Altobello, an executive director with the Marion County teachers union, told the paper in a text message that Hickman “was no more impaired than someone who took an aspirin for a headache. They implied that this is tantamount to smoking pot in the boys bathroom!”

It’s getting real tiresome hearing about the inevitability of ending cannabis prohibition AND how our nation honors military veterans and then learning about too many stories of vets getting punished for utilizing medicinal cannabis. Are we really honoring and respecting our military veterans when we push them to use alcohol and opiates, while penalizing them for using medical cannabis? Stories like this inspire me to work even harder for true freedom and equality for the cannabis community. Especially our veterans.

Kind Leaf, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique always honors veterans with a standing discount. There are also discounts for senior citizens, OMMP patients, and for utilizing the pickup window.

Happy Veterans Day! Kind Leaf Celebrates Veterans Today and Every Day.

Despite our many legitimate complaints about our government, we have many reasons to be thankful, and one of the reasons are military veterans. Thanks to veterans, we have the freedom and opportunity to criticize and speak openly. This Veterans Day, Kind Leaf is honoring veterans with a 20% discount on anything in the store. Understanding that veterans should be honored every day, and not just on November 11th, Kind Leaf always offers our vets a 10% discount. Please just show military ID or valid proof of service.

In honor of today, the Willamette Week reached out to some veterans within the cannabis community. The whole piece is certainly worth a read. Here’s a snippet, an interview with Steve Danyluk, retired lieutenant colonel U.S. Marine Corps and founder of Warfighter Hemp:

WW: How has cannabis use affected your life post-service?

Danyluk: My viewpoint on cannabis did a complete 180 after leaving the Marine Corps, where it was completely forbidden. For me the most significant impact was seeing the positive effect that it was having on so many of my colleagues who were struggling with opiates and other powerful medications that they were being prescribed by the VA. A lot of veterans, particularly the combat-wounded ones who seem to prefer our stronger oils, many of these veterans are completely off of prescription medications as a result [of CBD therapy], and that is one of the things that we at Warfighter Hemp are most proud of.

How will you be spending your Veterans Day this year?

My wife is still in active duty, so the first thing I will probably do when I wake up is kiss her and thank her for her service. Then, during the day, I will probably spend a few moments thinking about Dave Greene. Dave was a guy I served with and who is the highest-ranking Marine officer to have been killed in action in Iraq. He was an exceptional person on so many levels, and his loss was a loss for all of us.

Too many veterans are going without the basic medical care that they need, including medicinal cannabis. This lack of care and concern has led to an alarming increase in the number of suicides among military veterans. Let’s all do our part to help those that have sacrificed so much for our freedoms. Please reach out to veterans that you know to check in on them and continue to lobby our elected officials to implement policies that protect the health of our vets, including access to medical cannabis, regardless of where they live.

Misguided Attack Against Medical Cannabis by Mississippi’s Governor

It’s 2020, so I should be used to everything being political, but I couldn’t help but be both saddened and outraged to see Mississippi’s governor attacking a medical cannabis measure on the state’s ballot as some type of “liberal” boogeyman. The science and facts are in. Medical cannabis is a nonpartisan issue and allowing medical use has benefitted states and their residents across our great nation.

Marijuana Moment reports:

The governor of Mississippi is not happy about the medical marijuana measures on his state’s ballot this week, saying they are favored by “stoners.”

“There are good folks on all sides of the medical marijuana debate. Most non-stoners say we should be careful & deliberate,” Gov. Tate Reeves (R) tweeted. “Initiative 65 is the opposite.”

“Experts say it would mean the most liberal weed rules in the US! Pot shops everywhere—no local authority,” he said.

Too much of our lives have devolved into a “liberal” vs. “conservative,” “blue state” vs. “red state” fight and that just shouldn’t be the case for many issues, especially medical cannabis. Decisions about medical cannabis should be a private matter between people and their doctors, and a supermajority of Americans agree with that. A strong majority understand that cannabis prohibition should be repealed and that adults should be trusted to make their own choices regarding cannabis.

Beyond the personal liberty and medical privacy aspects of cannabis, there is the fact that medical cannabis laws have proven to benefit patients and states in a number of ways. Study after study has shown various medical benefits and research has shown that opioid usage has decreased. Since states starting legalizing medical cannabis back in 1996, we certainly have seen that the sky hasn’t fallen and there is zero justification for arresting, prosecuting, jailing, and imposing criminal records on patients and their providers.

Residents of the United States of America need to find common ground on as many issues as possible. Medical cannabis and ending prohibition are two of the most agreed upon “controversial” issues in our nation. Let’s remember that more binds us than divides us as Americans. So stop into a craft cannabis boutique, preferably Kind Leaf in beautiful Pendleton, Oregon, and help alleviate your election day stress with the best cannabis selection in Oregon. Maybe purchase a gift for a friend that doesn’t share your exact same political views and make some time to bond over something that brings us together. We need a lot more of that these days.

Kind Leaf, Eastern Oregon’s premier craft cannabis boutique, not only has the best selection, but the best deals around as well. Oregon Medical Marijuana Patients receive a 15% discount. You can view Kind Leaf’s menu, deals, and order online via Leafly.

Rest in Peace Charlotte Figi, Your Strength Saved Lives and Changed the World

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all of our lives, causing immense pain and grief across our nation and globe. One thing that I have learned during this crisis is to better appreciate that there are people who live their entire lives in a constant state of emergency and those people need help, support, and hope.

I imagine that there can be no greater sense of despair than watching your child suffer. Unfortunately, this is an all-too common part of life for too many people. Hearts around the world were changed when they learned about the suffering of Charlotte Figi and her family because of Dravet syndrome. Cannabis extracts improved her life and the world was changed for the better. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, Charlotte passed away yesterday at just 13 years of age. May she rest in peace and power, forever. My heart goes out to her parents Matt and Paige, her family, and everyone mourning the loss of a special angel warrior.

Most people first learned about Charlotte’s plight from Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s special “Weed” and that mainstream attention changed the debate around medical cannabis and cannabis in general. Here’s an excerpt from the CNN piece “Marijuana stops child’s severe seizures“:

Today, Charlotte, 6, is thriving. Her seizures only happen two to three times per month, almost solely in her sleep. Not only is she walking, she can ride her bicycle. She feeds herself and is talking more and more each day.
“I literally see Charlotte’s brain making connections that haven’t been made in years,” Matt said. “My thought now is, why were we the ones that had to go out and find this cure? This natural cure? How come a doctor didn’t know about this? How come they didn’t make me aware of this?”
The marijuana strain Charlotte and now 41 other patients use to ease painful symptoms of diseases such as epilepsy and cancer has been named after the little girl who is getting her life back one day at a time.
It’s called Charlotte’s Web.

In this life, we can only hope to impact as many lives that Charlotte did. The Charlotte’s Web strain was named after her and countless people will have their lives saved and improved thanks to her strength. While my heart aches for her family, I’m glad that we live in a world where brave people like Charlotte and her family stand up and change the world for the better.

New Jersey Supreme Court Protects Medical Cannabis Patients Employment

I know that it is hard to focus on much of anything other than the coronavirus these days, but one thing that the pandemic has brought to light is the importance of quality healthcare services. For many patients across the country, medical cannabis, recommended by their doctor, is a vital component of their healthcare. Unfortunately, most states still allow all kinds of discrimination against cannabis patients, including in the workforce. In a positive development, the New Jersey Supreme Court recently ruled that legal patients cannot be fired for utilizing medical cannabis outside their place of employment, as NJ.com reported:

As long as employees are not under the influence of the drug at work, the state Supreme Court said medical marijuana patients remain protected by the Law Against Discrimination, echoing an earlier appellate court decision.

While Tuesday’s case involved one former funeral home director who lost his job, the implications are broad.

“This protects hundreds, if not thousands of employees” who’ve faced the “stigma of marijuana,” said Jamison Mark, a lawyer for the former director. The ruling ensured that discrimination law and the state’s Compassionate Use Act were not at odds, he said.

This is a HUGE victory for New Jersey patients that should be replicated across the land. I would argue that most jobs, especially ones that don’t involve any dangerous activities, shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against anyone’s use of cannabis away from work, it is extremely important that patient rights be protected. Let’s work to make sure that the New Jersey Supreme Court’s sensible decision protecting medical cannabis patients’ employment rights gets replicated from coast to coast.

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.

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

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