Doctors at Massachusetts community health centers have been advised not to authorize any of their more than 638,000 patients to obtain marijuana for medical purposes because the centers fear they would lose their federal funding.
The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers has advised its 36 federally funded facilities to hold off on issuing patient marijuana certifications under the state’s new medical marijuana law, because use remains illegal under federal law.
Health center physicians who believe marijuana might be beneficial for certain patients and authorize its use could be committing a “potential violation of federal law and could result in legal and financial exposure for community health centers,” according to a statement from the League.
This disconnect between state and federal marijuana law is cropping up in other areas as well; some rules restrict tenants who use medical marijuana from living in federally subsidized housing, or prevent Veterans Administration hospitals and clinics from authorizing medical marijuana.
Voters approved a ballot initiative in No. . . . . READ MORE
Requested by committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the hearing was triggered by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement last month that federal authorities no longer will interfere as states adopt laws to allow medical marijuana or to legalize the drug entirely.
The hearing is on conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws. In calling for it, Leahy questioned whether, at a time of severe budget cutting, federal prosecutions of marijuana users are the best use of taxpayer dollars.
Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the nonprofit lobby group Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, D.C., said he hopes for a breakthrough in the hearing that would lead to changes in federal banking laws, allowing marijuana sellers to accept credit cards and checks, not just cash.
That would do a lot to legitimize the nation’s marijuana industry, safeguard. . . . . READ MORE
A two-year-old Scotch Plains girl and other sick children who qualify for medical marijuana moved closer to getting the treatments they need after the New Jersey Assembly overwhelmingly approved changes in the regulations on Monday.
Vivian Wilson, a toddler who suffers from a severe, rare form of epilepsy, was issued a card to obtain the drug in February, but faced a number of roadblocks, including a ban on edible cannabis.
Inspired by her story, lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a bill in June to reverse the ban and make other changes but were asked to revisit the issue after Gov. Christie attached recommendations to a veto last month.
A few weeks later, the Senate approved the recommendations, and the Assembly followed suit Monday with a 70-1 vote, with four abstentions.
“We are happy that this is finally being signed into law,” said Vivian’s parents, Brian and Meghan in a statement. “Our next focus will be working with the Mary E. O’Dowd and Department of Health to ensure that this law i. . . . . READ MORE
Conservatives MPs across Canada are expressing their disdain for Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau after his public admission to smoking marijuana while holding elected office.
Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod added her voice to the chorus on Thursday.
“There are laws in place; if people don’t believe them, there’s a system and a process whereby you change them,” she said. “Mr. Trudeau was very aware of the laws in place. I think as a member of Parliament he shouldn’t be breaking those laws.”
Trudeau laid out his past marijuana use in a lengthy interview and in an exchange with reporters Thursday in which he made no apologies.
He said he’s smoked pot five or six times in his life – including three years ago during a backyard get-together – and never really liked it much.
Now that he’s come clean about using pot, he said, he’d like to move on and talk about the hundreds of thousands of people who have a criminal record for it.
What’s important, Trudeau said, is ending a marijuana prohibition policy that he says costs law enforcement $5. . . . . READ MORE
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, meeting in Winnipeg this week, wants officers to have the ability to ticket people found with 30 grams of marijuana or less.
Kentville, N.S., police Chief Mark Mander, chair of the association’s drug-abuse committee, said Tuesday officers currently have only two choices: turn a blind eye or lay down the law.
Mander said officers could “either to caution the offender or lay formal charges resulting in [a] lengthy, difficult process, which results in a criminal charge if proven, a criminal conviction, and a criminal record.”
Mander said ticketing the offender would be far less onerous and expensive.
However, federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay said there are no plans in the works to legalize or decriminalize marijuana. Though McKay had no follow up on the chiefs’ recommendation, he said he appreciates their input.
“We don’t support legalization or decriminalization,” Mander said.
“Clearly there are circumstances where a formal charge for simple pos. . . . . READ MORE
Denver police have written more tickets for public marijuana use so far this year than in all of 2012, but the crime is rarely punished, according to new statistics from the city. Though Colorado voters in November legalized marijuana use by adults, consuming marijuana in public remains illegal, under both state law and Denver municipal ordinance. It brings a $100 fine under the state law.
According to figures provided by the Denver Department of Safety, police in the city wrote just 20 tickets for public marijuana consumption during the first half of 2013. Fifteen of those tickets came in May and June. Officers wrote only eight tickets in all of 2012, all but one of those pre-legalization.
“Nothing has changed for us policy-wise,” Denver police spokesman John White said. “If individuals are observed consuming marijuana in public, they will be cited.”
It’s difficult to determine whether public pot use has actually increased. There have been no scientific studies about public marijuana use in Denver, either pre- or post-legalization.
But people concerned about the impacts of mariju. . . . . READ MORE
For the activists who led the effort to legalize recreational marijuana in Washington state last fall, Jamen Shively was one of their biggest fears: an aspiring pot profiteer whose unabashed dreams of building a cannabis empire might attract unwanted attention from the federal government or a backlash that could slow the marijuana reform movement across the country.
With visionary zeal, the 45-year-old former Microsoft manager described his plans to a conference room packed with reporters and supporters last month, saying he was tired of waiting for a green light from the Obama administration, which still hasn’t said how it will respond to the legalization of recreational pot in Washington and Colorado. Shively vowed to quickly raise $10 million and eventually build his company, Diego Pellicer, into an international pot powerhouse.
Though he promised a “cautious and measured” expansion, Shively’s approach nevertheless contrasted with that of state regulators who want to avoid repeating the national experience with Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol, in. . . . . READ MORE
In the wake of ballot measures legalizing marijuana in Washington state and Colorado, it’s not at all out of the question that Oregon voters will have another shot at legalizing marijuana in this state.
Now, it’s true that Oregon voters just last November rejected another initiative, Ballot Measure 80, which would have legalized marijuana. But our sense is that voters were reluctant to ratify that particular measure because — well, because it was loony.
If there’s a pot-legalization measure on the Oregon ballot in 2014 — and if the measure appears to have been crafted with somewhat more care than went into Measure 80 — our hunch is that the measure will pass.
And Oregon state law on marijuana will lurch into head-on conflict with federal law.
The Obama administration hasn’t given much guidance on this matter to its federal attorneys in Washington state and Colorado after the marijuana votes in those states. In fact, Obama himself said that his administration had “bigger fish to fry” than figuring out strategie. . . . . READ MORE
Black Americans were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010, even though the two groups used the drug at similar rates, according to new federal data.
This disparity had grown steadily from a decade before, and in some states, including Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, blacks were around eight times as likely to be arrested. During the same period, public attitudes toward marijuana softened and a number of states decriminalized its use. But about half of all drug arrests in 2011 were on marijuana-related charges, roughly the same portion as in 2010.
Advocates for the legalization of marijuana have criticized the Obama administration for having vocally opposed state legalization efforts and for taking a more aggressive approach than the Bush administration in closing medical marijuana dispensaries and prosecuting their owners in some states, especially Montana and California.
The new data, however, offers a more nuanced picture of marijuana enforcement on the state level. Drawn from police records from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the report is the most comprehensi. . . . . READ MORE
For nearly a century, the United States has been one of the fiercest advocates and practitioners of marijuana prohibition in the world. At the height of the America’s anti-pot fervor in the 1950s and ’60s, one could even receive life imprisonment for simple possession of the drug.
But the puritanical fervor that once dominated the national discussion surrounding cannabis has been conspicuously absent of late. Earlier this month, the Colorado State legislature, by order of a November referendum, passed bills to implement the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana use. Washington State voters also approved legalization by referendum on election day. And these events have recently been followed by more good news for supporters of cannabis law reform.
The Organization for American States recently suggested that marijuana legalization could be a way to cut down on drug-violence in the western hemisphere. Perhaps most important, the movement has finally found a voice on Capitol Hill, as representatives Earl Blumenauer and Jared Polis submitted legislation earlier this year that would end federal prohibition of the drug, and allow states to tax and regulate it as t. . . . . READ MORE