Tag: medical cannabis

Just Say NO to Trump’s Budget Plan to Cut Medical Cannabis Patient Protections

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal sent shockwaves through the cannabis community yesterday as his administration’s plan would eliminate protections for medical cannabis patients. Under current federal policy, the William Barr’s Department of Justice is prohibited from using any funds from prosecuting, arresting, and jailing medical cannabis patients and their providers who are following their state’s laws.

This is a surprising move by the Trump Administration as he is going back on a campaign promise and protecting state medical cannabis patients and programs has been a largely bipartisan endeavor over the last few year, thanks to the supermajority support medical use enjoys among Americans. Rarely do politicians want to go against the wish of 85% of voters.

As Marijuana Moment reported, this isn’t the first time that Trump has called for an end to the policy and thankfully, Congress has ignored previous attempts to gut the protections, following the will of the people:

President Trump proposed ending an existing policy that protects state medical marijuana programs from Justice Department interference as part of his fiscal year 2021 budget plan released on Monday.

The rider, which has been renewed in appropriations legislation every year since 2014, stipulates the the Justice Department can’t use its funds to prevent states or territories “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

This isn’t the first time that an administration has requested that the rider be stricken. Trump’s last two budgets omitted the medical cannabis protections language, and President Obama similarly asked for the policy to be removed. In all cases, Congress has ignored those requests and renewed the protections in spending bills.

While there is a great chance that Congress won’t listen to Donald Trump on his proposal to end federal protections for state-legal medical cannabis patients, his administration’s budget plan is a reminder that we must remain vigilant. The gains that we have made can be taken away at any time. It is rather remarkable that anyone in government would have the notion to authorize the arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment of medical patients legally using cannabis under their state’s law.

The fact that this cruel and ill-advised policy would make its way into the 2020 budget plan of the President of the United States demonstrates how there is still a lot of work to be done to achieve true equality for the cannabis community. The good news is that the people, and the truth are on our side, so we just have to keep working hard to support the right public officials and spread the truth about cannabis.

Featured Photo Credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

 

We Need a Medical Cannabis Patients Bill of Rights

It is easy to see that our nation is moving towards a more sane cannabis policy, but it is still moving too slowly for millions of people. Yes, cannabis is legal for all adults in several states and a majority now allow medical, these laws primarily only protect law-abiding citizens from criminal punishment. Too many folks are still experiencing discrimination in the workplace or face the possibility of losing custody of the children because laws ending criminal penalties aren’t fully protecting those that utilize cannabis. Most importantly, we need to protect patients that use cannabis medicinally.

A medical cannabis patients bill of rights has been filed in Florida, and every state needs to adopt similar legislation, albeit we need even more protections. The Orlando Weekly reports:

The purpose of the legislation is to protect employees and job applicants from punishment for using medical marijuana, unless their job includes safety-sensitive job duties.

“We must do our part to ensure that their use of safe and effective medicine will not impede their right to work,” Berman stated in a press release regarding the Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act.

The measures would require the employer to provide written notice within five days of a positive test result to give employees and job applicants a chance to explain their results. According to Berman, employers would still be able to enforce a zero-tolerance, drug-free workplace, as the legislation allows for termination of employees whose performance and safety are affected by the drug.

In addition to workplace issues, medical cannabis patients need protections for housing, child custody, and medical decisions. We have made great strides in ending the persecution, prosecution, and stigmatization of the cannabis community recently, but we still have a lot of work to do as fighting for liberty and equality doesn’t stop when states legalize the use of cannabis.

Feature photo credit: Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

South Dakota to Vote on Cannabis Legalization This Year

Since 1996, presidential election years have been big years for cannabis law reform measures on the ballot and 2020 is shaping up to be another monumental one for the cannabis community. A somewhat unlikely state may just make the leap to full legalization as advocates in South Dakota have put in the hard work of gathering signatures to qualify an amendment for the November ballot. Each state that passes a medical or recreational measure brings us one step closer to ending prohibition federally, and bonus points go to activists that have success in conservative locales like the Mount Rushmore State. Marijuana Moment reported:

The proposed constitutional amendment, which was submitted by a former federal prosecutor in September, would allow adults 21 and older to possess and distribute up to one ounce of marijuana. Individuals would also be allowed to cultivate up to three cannabis plants.

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Under the broader recreational legalization proposal, the South Dakota Department of Revenue would be responsible for issuing licenses for manufacturers, testing facilities and retailers. And sales on cannabis products would be taxed at 15 percent, with revenue earmarked to cover the program’s implementation, public education and the state general fund.

Additionally, the measure requires the legislature to pass bills providing access to medical cannabis for patients and allowing for the sale of hemp by April 1, 2022. If the separate medical marijuana legalization initiative is approved, however, that specific provision wouldn’t be necessary.

Gathering thousands of signatures is no easy task, especially during the winter, so my gratitude goes out to everyone that braves the elements to help legalize freedom, jobs, and revenue around our great nation, especially in states that aren’t your typical hotbed of support. However, the times are a-changin’ with medical provisions passing in places like Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Utah as these victories give me hope that sensible cannabis policies will soon be the law of the land in red states like South Dakota and Idaho. State by state, freedom is on the march, bringing the cannabis community closer and closer to equality from coast to coast.

The Veterans Administration Should Provide Medical Cannabis

Many Americans rightfully appreciate the sacrifices made by military veterans, especially during the holidays, but our country unfortunately lets down our vets time after time. One glaring example is the lack of medical cannabis information and assistance available to vets through the Veterans Administration. One vet is rightfully making a push for the VA to provide medical cannabis directly to those that have put on a uniform to defend our nation, as CBS12.com reports:

”Medical marijuana gave me the chance to reduce my medications down to where I’m only taking four pills a day,” said David Eniss, a Delray Beach resident.

Eniss, a grandfather and U.S. Air Force veteran, says he doesn’t know what he would do without medical marijuana.

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“I would hope that they would pass a law to take care of our veterans in that way, and that they would consider cannabis as a legitimate medication that could be covered under Veterans Administration benefits,” he explained.

We have made some good progress on medical cannabis laws across the nation and we did take a step forward recently when VA policy was changed to allow vets to participate in state medical cannabis programs and VA providers to discuss medical use as part of their patients’ comprehensive medical care. For too many veterans, this simply isn’t enough as too many are on limited incomes, let alone living in states that prohibit all forms of cannabis. It is past time that our government do right by vets on a variety of fronts, including regarding their safe access to medical cannabis.

 

 

Major League Baseball OKs Cannabis Use in the Minors, More Big Changes to Come

Whether or not you are into Major League Baseball (MLB) or any other type of sportsballs, it cannot be denied that sports are huge in America. The NFL, NBA, and MLB are gargantuan business ventures and impact the overall culture of the United States. Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball had a momentous impact on U.S. race relations, for instance. Today, we’re seeing more and more current and former professional athletes speaking about the need to legalize cannabis, especially for medicinal purposes, as opioid abuse and overdoses have become a nationwide crisis.

Minor league players will now be allowed by MLB to utilize cannabis in a new agreement. Baseball has been rocked by the tragic overdose death of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs this year and it is expected that big league players will also be officially allowed to utilize cannabis, as part of an effort to combat the opioid epidemic, as the Boston Globe:

Tony Clark, the MLB players’ union chief, is optimistic an agreement could be reached before the year’s end. The deal also includes opioid testing and a recovery plan. Minor league players who test positive for opioids would be “put into a treatment program rather than suspended,” CBS Sports reported.

The Los Angeles Times first reported in October that changes may be coming to the MLB at the behest of the players’ union. Testing for opioids and easing marijuana penalties is one way the league is responding to the opioid crisis following the overdose death of 27-year-old Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs earlier this year. Oxycodone, fentanyl, and alcohol were found in Skaggs’ system at the time of his death.

While the MLB is known for being progressive when it comes to cannabis use, many other major league sports in the United States have been slow to reform their stances on marijuana and CBD.

This move by Major League Baseball is just another step forward in the mainstreaming of cannabis and should be applauded. Hopefully, other sports leagues follow suit and our nation can continue our march towards finally implementing a sane cannabis policy from coast to coast.