DEA Nixes Removing Marijuana From Its Highly Restricted Drug Classification

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On August 11, 2016, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) denied a petition to lessen federal restrictions on the use of marijuana for the fourth consecutive time. The DEA rejected petitions to remove marijuana from its most highly restricted classification of drugs, which includes heroin and ecstasy, but announced a new policy to support expanded research into the substance.

The Federal Status of Marijuana.

Reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 2 drug would have made it easier to get federal approval for studies of its uses as well as for doctors to start writing prescriptions for medical marijuana-based treatments. Additionally, the current federal status of marijuana makes it impossible for state-legal marijuana businesses to take the same tax deductions afforded to other business. Federal restrictions also make banks reluctant to work with marijuana businesses, leading many of them to become all-cash operations — with all the risks that entails.

The acting head of the DEA, Chuck Rosenburg, stated that “it has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision and a high potential for abuse.”

Marijuana for Scientific Research.

In a proposal issued on the same day, the DEA said that it will allow universities and private companies to grow marijuana for scientific research. Despite this, the DEA says it cannot change the legal status of marijuana unless the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines it has a clear medical use. However, the FDA cannot determine it has a medical use in part because of the highly restrictive legal status of the drug. It’s a classic catch-22.

To read more on the status of medical marijuana, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Stop Perpetuating the Insanity.

Like Yosarian said in the novel Catch 22, a novel about the absurdities and contradictions inherent in large government bureaucracy: “That’s some catch, that ‘catch 22.’ ” And the DEA is helping to perpetuate it. It’s difficult to understand how states can be legalizing medical marijuana, authorizing doctors to write prescriptions for it and issuing licenses to medical marijuana growers, if the DEA keeps it on its Schedule 1. Yeah, it’s right up there with heroin and PCP, isn’t it? My question is why aren’t cigarettes and chewing tobacco on that schedule? Someone needs to wake up and smell the coffee (or the ganja smoke)!

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Ingraham, Christopher. “Why the DEA just said ‘no’ to loosening marijuana restrictions.” The Washington Post. (August 16, 2016). Web.

Saint Thomas, Catherine. “DEA keeps marijuana on the dangerous list of drugs.” The New York Times. (August 16, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawfirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone; (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, marijuana for scientific research, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) administrative actions, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) defense attorney, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) legal counsel, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defense attorney, medical marijuana attorneys, marijuana growers attorney, Charlotte’s Webb, The Health Law Firm Reviews, legal representation for medical marijuana growers, health lawyer, The Health Law Firm Attorney Reviews, Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO attorney, Nurses Service Organization (NSO) defense attorney, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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Florida Harvests It’s First Legal Medical Marijuana Crop

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On July 18, 2016, Florida harvested it’s first legal marijuana crop. The new crop is being stored in multiple vacuum-packed, 441-gram bags in a freezer on the outskirts of Tallahassee. The harvest is the result of months of careful growing, monitoring, coaxing, and finally cultivating, scores of plants in a hidden farm overseen by horticulturalists and protected by armed guards. It is unknown which security company, if any, is providing security or if it approaches the security of Fort Knox.

This is one of two production facilities operated by Surterra Therapeutics, the first of six companies to win state approval to grow and harvest medical marijuana for the seriously ill and dying.

Charlotte’s Web.

In 2014, Florida adopted laws to allow two types of medical marijuana: non-euphoric strains, such as “Charlotte’s Web,” that is thought to help control seizures and ease symptoms of certain other medical conditions; and full-strength marijuana to alleviate pain, nausea and other symptoms for patients considered terminally ill. Since Surterra won approval to harvest last month, Florida has allowed four other companies to do the same: Chestnut Hill Tree Farm in Alachua County, Hackney Nursery in Gadsden County, Modern Health Concepts in Miami-Dade County, and Knox Nursery in Orange County.

These grow farms are poised to expand considerably if the required 60 percent of voters in November cast “Yes” ballots for Amendment 2 to the Florida Constitution, which would legalize full-strength marijuana for an estimated 450,000 Floridians with debilitating illnesses.

To read one of my prior blogs on medical marijuana in Florida, click here.

Vote Yes for Amendment 2.

It is my opinion that the legalization of marijuana, especially for the treatment of sick children, is many decades overdue. Parents should not have to face the Hobson’s choice of breaking the law or obtaining relief for their sick child. For a herbal medication which has proven to have infinitely less adverse consequences than either alcohol or tobacco, this should be a “no brainer.”

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Source:

“Florida’s first medical marijuana crop cut up, stored.” Associated Press. (July 18, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawfirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone; (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, associations between cannabis use and physical health problems, Charlotte’s Webb, medical marijuana use for terminally ill patients, legal representation for medical marijuana, health lawyer, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

New Study Reveals Only One Long Term Effect From Smoking Marijuana

3 Indest-2009-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

According to new research, long-term marijuana use may not be so bad for your health after all. A recent long-term study of nearly 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to age 38 has found that people who smoked marijuana for up to 20 years have more gum disease, but otherwise do not show worse physical health than non-smokers.

The researchers’ findings, published in the June issue of The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry, found that among the 38-year-olds surveyed, 55.6% of people who had smoked marijuana regularly for 15 or 20 years had gum disease, while only 13.5% of the 38-year-olds who had never used marijuana and don’t smoke cigarettes had the same disease.

To draw their comparisons among the participants, researchers assessed physical health issues like lung function, systemic inflammation, and metabolic syndrome. They also study-controlled for factors like socioeconomic status as well as self-reported brushing and flossing habits, according to Live Science. Click here to read the article in full.

The Findings.

In general, the findings showed that cannabis use over 20 years was unrelated to health problems in early midlife. Across the several domains of health factored in, clear evidence of an adverse association with cannabis use was apparent for only one domain, namely, periodontal health. While cannabis users had poor periodontal health, in some cases they actually showed better health outcomes than non-smokers such as lower body mass indexes, smaller waists and better high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, the good cholesterol. These results have led researchers to think that cannabis may have an impact on metabolism. Tobacco users in the study, were found to have gum disease as well as reduced lung function, systemic inflammation and indicators of poorer metabolic health.

“We can see the physical health effects of tobacco smoking in this study, but we don’t see similar effects for cannabis smoking,” Madeline Meier, an assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University and the lead author on the study, told Duke Today.

Study’s Authors Warn: These Results Don’t Give a Green Light to Smoke As Much As You Want.

While this study revealed that tobacco smokers may be worse off tobacco, it doesn’t mean you should necessarily smoke marijuana as much as you want. “We need to recognize that heavy recreational cannabis use does have some adverse consequences, but overall damage to physical health is not apparent in this study,” Avshalom Caspi, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and a coauthor on the study, said in a statement, according to Live Science.

To learn more about the effects and potential benefits of marijuana, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

More Medical Research Showing the Lack of Harm of Marijuana Use is Needed.

What this study shows is something that most of us who actually lived through the hippy movement of the Sixties already knew. Smoking marijuana is not harmful to you. Despite what marijuana opponents would like to be true, the evidence just does not support the harmfulness of marijuana. The problem is that with the lack of research studies because of federal restrictions, there is little published legitimate clinical research to actually prove the harmlessness of marijuana. This study goes far to show that fact. I would strongly encourage academic institutions to support such research and the federal government to stop its persecution of marijuana legalization and to support such research.

By comparison, those vices which are legal (alcohol and smoking be the two major ones), cause thousands of deaths each year and billions of dollars of loss to our economy, directly attributable to their use. Not so for marijuana! If we could take fifty percent of the alcohol abusers and convert them to using marijuana, instead, think of the savings on alcohol-related diseases, loss of income, domestic strife, the requirement for rehabilitation and treatment, and other such consequences. There are no known or reported cases of someone dying from a marijuana overdose. By comparison, how many thousands of U.S. citizens have died of alcohol overdoses?

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Berke, Jeremy. “A new study might have found one of the only long-term physical health risks linked to smoking marijuana.” Business Insider. (June 3, 2016). Web.

“Pot-Smokers Harm Gums; Other Physical Effects Slight.” Duke Today. (May 31, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Long-term effects of marijuana use, the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), recreational marijuana use, legal counsel for medical marijuana, marijuana defense attorney, associations between cannabis use and physical health problems, cannabis versus tobacco users, health lawyer, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Could Marijuana Be a Successful Treatment For Opioid Addiction? Lawmakers Are Considering This Alternative Treatment

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Recently, a growing number of patients and doctors have claimed that medical marijuana may help treat addiction to painkillers and heroin. These claims have intrigued lawmakers and advocates who are pushing for marijuana as a treatment for the abuse of opioids and narcotics like heroin, as well as an alternative to painkillers.

One Problem: Very Little Supporting Research.

As there has been a growing problem with addiction to painkillers and heroin, this seems like a promising treatment. There is one problem however.  There is very little research showing that marijuana works effectively as a treatment for the addiction.

According to advocates, a growing amount of scientific literature supports the idea and a study in the Journal of Pain published in 2016, found that chronic pain sufferers significantly reduced their opioid use when taking medical marijuana.

The supporting research also falls short of concluding marijuana actually helps wean people off painkillers and illegal narcotics like heroin. Many health care professionals say it’s not enough for them to confidently prescribe marijuana as a treatment for addiction.

Is Marijuana a Safe Alternative?

Even though some patients and doctors have claimed the treatment is successful, not everyone is convinced. Cannabis could have limited benefits as a treatment alternative, said Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Kevin Hill, authored the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) study that found benefits in using medical marijuana to treat chronic pain. But he also urged caution.

“If you are thinking about using cannabis as opposed to using opioids for chronic pain, then I do think the evidence does support it,” he said. “However, I think one place where sometimes cannabis advocates go too far is when they talk about using cannabis to treat opioid addiction.”

Additionally, some substance abuse experts argue that there are already approved medications to treat addiction. They also claim that it would be wrong to portray marijuana as completely safe because it can also be addictive.

To read one of my prior blogs on medical marijuana and the list of recommended uses, click here.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Casey, Michael. “Could Marijuana Help Treat Painkiller and Heroin Addiction?” Associated Press. (April 26,2016). Web.

“Could Marijuana Help Treat Painkiller and Heroin Addiction?” CBS News. (April 26, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Marijuana treatment for opioid addiction, alternative addiction treatment, alternative for painkillers, Florida medical marijuana, medical marijuana legislation, medical marijuana laws, medical cannabis, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Journal of Pain, medical marijuana stores, medical marijuana license, medical marijuana legalization, medical marijuana lawyer, defense attorney, health lawyer, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Cities All Over Florida Prepare for Medical Marijuana, Even Altamonte Springs!

GFI photo smBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Medical marijuana stores are one-step closer to being able to operate in Altamonte Springs as officials give initial green light to proposed ordinances. The city commission voted unanimously Tuesday evening in favor of the new city ordinances that would require medical marijuana businesses to secure licenses from the city. To learn more about medical marijuana legislation in Florida, click here.

Click here to read a copy of the city commission’s agenda from Tuesday.

Establishing Ground Rules.

Altamonte Springs city officials are looking to establish certain guidelines for future medical marijuana related businesses that open within city limits. Under these proposed ordinances, businesses would be required to secure a medical marijuana permit from the city on an annual basis. The permits would restrict medical marijuana businesses to establish in industrial or very light industrial zoning districts.

The drafted rules also state that medical marijuana related businesses can only operate during certain business hours and cannot stand within 300 feet of a school, park or childcare center. “I think we’re very appropriately in front of this issue,” City Manager Frank Martz told the commission on Tuesday. These ordinances are set to return to the commission for a final vote in December.
To read further about medical marijuana legalization on Florida, read one of our past blogs here.

Comments?

Do you agree with these proposed ordinances? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
Sources :

Rodgers, Bethany. “Altamonte prepares for medical marijuana.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 17, 2015). Print.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana, medical marijuana legislation, medical marijuana laws, medical cannabis, medical marijuana stores, medical marijuana license, medical marijuana legalization, medical marijuana lawyer, defense attorney, health lawyer, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Federal Judge Challenges the Justice Department’s Interpretation of Federal Law Restricting Medical Marijuana Prosecutions

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

In a federal case involving a California-based medical marijuana dispensary and the United States, regarding a motion to dissolve a permanent injunction, a federal judge challenged the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) so-called “tortured” interpretation of the law.  U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer pronounced that the DOJ’s interpretation is “at odds with fundamental notions of the rule of law.”  Judge Breyer went so far as to say that the DOJ’s analysis of the plain language Amendment was “counterintuitive and opportunistic.”

At issue in this case is a law passed last year by Congress which purposes to restrain the Justice Department’s efforts to prevent the implementation and use of medical marijuana in states where it has been legalized.  The applicable portion of the federal law in dispute is Section 538 of the 2015 Appropriations Act (otherwise known as the “Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment”).  The Amendment states that the DOJ is barred from using federal funds to “prevent such States [where medical cannabis has been legalized] from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

The federal court decision found that the DOJ incorrectly interpreted the federal law to mean that it cannot prosecute the state itself for implementing mandates authorizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes but that it could still prosecute individuals and businesses carrying out state mandates or operating within state law.

To read the order of the court regarding briefing and hearing in United States of America v. Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana and Lynette Shaw, click here.

DOJ Issues “Cole Memo” to Clarify.

Former Deputy Attorney General James Cole wrote a memo to all U.S. attorneys stating that the DOJ would exercise prosecutorial discretion and not pursue marijuana cases in those states where it is legal relying upon:

“[an] expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health, and other law enforcement interests.”

This has now come to be known as the “Cole memo.”  Click here to read the Cole memo in its entirety.

Facts of the Federal Court Case.

Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (“Marin Alliance”) based in Fairfax, California, closed its doors in late 2011, folding under pressure from the federal government, even though it was operating legally according to California law.  It was known as the state’s oldest marijuana dispensary.  It first opened its doors in November 1996, when California legalized medical marijuana.

Marin Alliance was initially targeted by the DOJ due to its close proximity to Bolinas Park.  According to federal law, medical marijuana dispensaries cannot be within 1,000 feet of a park or school, to deter the sale of cannabis to minors.  Owner and director, Lynette Shaw, who is herself a recipient of medical marijuana, maintains she was always cognizant of and in compliance with state laws.

A Favorable Ruling for Medical Marijuana Advocates.

Although medical marijuana dispensaries and users had consistently lost in federal court despite the support of local law, the Amendment codified as section 538 of the federal funding bill last year was the persuading factor for a victory for Marin Alliance.  U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer challenged the DOJ’s interpretation of Section 538 of the 2015 Appropriations Act, asserting that the DOJ’s stance “so tortured the plain meaning of the statute.” Judge Breyer further stated “it defies language and logic for the Government to argue that it does not ‘prevent’ California from ‘implementing’ its medical marijuana laws by shutting down these same heavily-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries.”

To read the full order of the court in this case, click here.

The Need for Congruence Between State and Federal Law.

Despite its growing acceptance as a medicinal treatment in 23 states across the nation (and four states legalizing its use for recreational purposes as well), marijuana has yet to be removed from the federal list of restricted drugs.  The looming threat of prosecution by the DEA for using or dispensing medical marijuana, even within compliance of state law, is enough to deter many from seeking its benefits for patients.

Click here to read one of our previous blog posts regarding federal prosecution for medical marijuana treatment.

Comments?

Do you agree with the U.S. District Judge’s ruling?  Why or why not?

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Adler, Jonathan H.  “Court Rules Federal Government May Not Spend Money to Enforce Drug Laws Against Marijuana Dispensaries Legal Under State Law.”  The Washington Post.  20 Oct. 2015.  Web.  9 Nov. 2015.

Ingraham, Christopher.  “Federal Court Tells the DEA to Stop Harassing Medical Marijuana Providers.”  The Washington Post.  20 Oct. 2015.  Web.  9 Nov. 2015.

Phelps, Timothy M.  “Ruling Reins in Justice Department on Medical Pot.”  Orlando Sentinel: A22.  8 Nov. 2015.  Print.  9 Nov. 2015.

Schwartz, Carly.  “Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, California’s Oldest Pot Club, Closes.”  San Francisco.  Huff Post: 22 Dec. 2011.  Web. 9 Nov. 2015.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone (407) 331-6620.


Keywords:
2015 Appropriations Act, Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, medical marijuana, cannabis for medicinal treatment, medical marijuana lawyer, medical marijuana defense attorney, defense lawyer, health lawyer, health law attorney, cannabis for treatment of debilitating medical condition, medical marijuana ordering physician, medical marijuana federal prosecution defense attorney, prescribing controlled substances, DEA defense lawyer, guidelines for federal prosecutors, compassionate-use in Florida, Drug Enforcement Agency physician registration, The Health Law Firm, medical marijuana dispensaries, medical marijuana compliance lawyer, medical marijuana legalization, Section 538 of federal funding bill

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Physicians Allowed to “Recommend” But Not “Prescribe” Medical Marijuana for Patients

4 Indest-2009-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Under the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, Florida patients suffering from cancer or a physical medical condition that produces chronic symptoms of seizures or severe and persistent muscles spasms can qualify for the use of low-THC cannabis.

To read the full legislative language of the Florida compassionate-use act, click here.

Florida has been preparing physicians to qualify patients for the use of medical marijuana for nearly a year. So far, only 42 doctors have completed the process for the medical marijuana program, which consists of passing an eight-hour continuing education course and a subsequent examination.

However, after all other alternative treatment options have proven to be unsuccessful, even registered physicians will not be prescribing the drug low in the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and high in cannabidiol (CBD) to patients qualified for its use. This is because prescribing marijuana in any form, even low-THC cannabis, is against federal law. Therefore, the way Florida law is written, qualified physicians may “recommend” or write a “recommendation” for medical marijuana for a patient.

Prescribing Medical Marijuana is a Violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act.

In order to prescribe controlled substances, physicians must first register with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The DEA categorizes each controlled substance by potency, potential for abuse and accepted safety or medical use with schedules utilizing roman numerals.

Medical marijuana (even low-THC cannabis) is categorized as a Schedule I drug, meaning it currently has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, it has no accepted safety for use under medical supervision and it possesses a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are illegal to prescribe, even by physicians registered with the DEA.

For more information on prescribing controlled substances from the American Nurses Association, click here.

How Will Qualified Patients Receive Medical Marijuana for Treatment?

While physicians are barred from prescribing low-THC cannabis, despite the compassionate-use act that became effective on January 1, 2015, physicians registered in the program will instead be providing qualified patients with”physician certifications.” A physician certification for a qualifying patient is basically a written document signed by a physician.

The document must profess the physician has examined the patient and currently maintains a treatment plan for the patient, and in the physician’s professional opinion such patient suffers from a “debilitating medical condition,” as specified by Florida law. Furthermore, the physician must assert that all other alternative treatment options have been unsuccessful in relieving symptoms associated with the patient’s illness.

Other conditions apply for qualifying patients and for physician ordering of medical marijuana. For more information on additional requirements, click here to refer to Section 381.986, Florida Statutes.

Will Physicians Face Federal Prosecution for Providing Qualified Patients with Medical Marijuana?

In a press release issued by the Department of Justice in October of 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder announced formal guidelines for federal prosecutors in states that possess laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana. Attorney General Holder emphasized that the focus of federal resources should not be on the individuals acting in compliance with state laws. However, prosecution will continue for those individuals claiming to comply with state laws but acting against the terms, conditions and purposes of those laws.

To read the full press release by the Department of Justice dated October 19, 2009, click here.

In a memorandum issued by Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden, dated October 19, 2009 and referenced by Attorney General Holder, the Deputy Attorney General states in pertinent part:

“The Department of Justice is committed to the enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in all States. Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug, and the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana is a serious crime…The prosecution of significant traffickers of illegal drugs, including marijuana, and the disruption of illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking networks continues to be a core priority…As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”

To read the full memorandum for more information on what constitutes “clear and unambiguous compliance,” click here.

To read a more recent memorandum of Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, stressing the importance of strong regulatory and enforcement systems in states where medical marijuana is legal, click here.

Finally, to read the DEA’s Position Paper on Marijuana, click here.

Comments?

Are you signing up as a physician authorized to order medical marijuana for qualified patients in the state of Florida? If no, is it because you are concerned about possible federal prosecution?

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs. “Attorney General Announces Formal Medical Marijuana Guidelines.” Press release. 19 Oct. 2009. Web. 28 Oct. 2015.

Powers, Scott. “Marijuana Program Draws 42 Doctors Statewide.” Health. Orlando Sentinel: 19 Aug. 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Sherman, Amy and Gillin, Joshua. “PolitiFact Florida: Will Doctors Write Prescriptions for Medical Marijuana if You Have an Itchy Back?” PolitiFact Florida. Tampa Bay Times: 23 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.

Wright, Esq., Brian K. “The Regulatory Impact of Medical Marijuana on Health Care Providers and Other Stakeholders.” PowerPoint presentation. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone (407) 331-6620.

Keywords: Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, Florida medical marijuana, low-THC cannabis in Florida, medical marijuana, medical marijuana lawyer, qualifying patients for medical marijuana, medical marijuana defense attorney, defense lawyer, health lawyer, health law attorney, physician certifications for medical marijuana, cannabis for treatment of debilitating medical condition, medical marijuana ordering physician, medical marijuana federal prosecution defense attorney, prescribing controlled substances, DEA defense lawyer, guidelines for federal prosecutors, compassionate-use in Florida, Drug Enforcement Agency physician registration, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Group Pushing For New Marijuana Legalization Amendment in Florida

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

There is a new effort to legalize the use of marijuana in Florida and not just for medical purposes. Petitions will soon hit the streets for a proposed constitutional amendment that would completely legalize use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by Florida adults.

Getting the Measure on the November 2016 Ballot.

The Florida Cannabis Action Network, along with a committee called Floridians For Freedom, stated that it had received state approval to begin seeking signatures which would get their measure on the November 2016 ballot. This measure is distinct from a previous amendment led by Orlando Lawyer John Morgan, who wanted to legalize marijuana for medical purposes only.

Floridians For Freedom will have to gather about 67,000 valid signatures to get the effort to the next phase which is Florida Supreme Court review. Then the group will have to gather an additional 600,000 valid signatures to get it qualified for the ballot next fall. To visit their website, click here.

“Ending Prohibition” of Marijuana Under State Law.

According to Jodi James, chair of Floridians For Freedom and executive director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, all the commercial aspects of marijuana would be controlled by rules and regulations set by the Florida Legislature and Department of Commerce. “We want it to be legal. We want it to be regulated. We want it controlled. We want people to have safe access,” James said.

The Florida Cannabis Action Network currently has 20,000 members that it will call on to help collect valid signatures. To read one of our previous blogs on marijuana policy, click here.

Comments?

What are your thoughts on making marijuana completely legalized? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Source:

Powers, Scott. “Group to push amendment that would completely legalize marijuana.” Orlando Sentinel. (September 2, 2015). Print.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Legalize marijuana, Florida medical marijuana, medical cannabis, medical marijuana, medical marijuana lawyer, medical marijuana license, defense attorney, defense lawyer, health lawyer, marijuana, recreational cannabis, recreational marijuana, marijuana cultivation, Floridians For Freedom, Florida, Cannabis Action Network, commercial use of marijuana, Florida Legislature, Department of Commerce, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Workers Can Be Fired For Using Marijuana Off-Duty

IMG_5571 darken lighten center and skin sofBy Carole C. Schriefer, R.N., J.D., The Health Law Firm

Marijuana may be legal in Colorado, but you can still be fired for using it. Employers’ zero- tolerance drug policies trump Colorado’s medical marijuana laws, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Monday. In a 6-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that businesses can terminate an employee for the use of medical marijuana – even if it’s off-duty.

Coats v. Dish Network.

Brandon Coats became a quadriplegic after a car accident and has relied on medical marijuana to help with muscle spasms. Dish Network fired Coats after a failed drug test in 2010.  “As a national employer, Dish remains committed to a drug-free workplace and compliance with federal law,” company spokesman John Hall said in a statement.  To read about the Coats v. Dish Network case in its entirety, click here.

What is Lawful Activity?

This case was brought based on Colorado Revised Statute 24-34-402.5, Colorado’s “lawful activities statute.” The Supreme Court held the term “lawful” in the statute refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law. Therefore, employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law, are not protected by this statute.  Like Texas, Colorado law allows employers to set their own policies on drug use.  Unlike Texas, Colorado has a law that says employees can’t be fired for “lawful” off-duty activities.
To read C.R.S. § 24-34-402.5. – Unlawful prohibition of legal activities as a condition of employment, click here.

Legal Off-Duty Activity.

Coats claims that Dish Network violated C.R.S. § 24-34-402.5, by terminating him due to his state licensed use of medical marijuana at home during non-working hours. The Colorado justices ruled that because marijuana is illegal under federal law, Coat’s use of the drug couldn’t be considered legal off-duty activity.  State laws only govern the citizens within a particular state, but federal laws apply to all U.S. citizens. Therefore, federal laws trump state laws.

To read past blogs on this topic or any health law topic, visit our blog pages on our website : www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Visit our Colorado Health Law blog.

Comments?

Do you think medical marijuana is considered a “lawful” activity? Do you agree with Dish Network’s decision? Do you think Coats v. Dish Network was a fair case, why or why not? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Linsley, Brennon. “Colorado court: Workers can be fired for using pot off-duty.” The News Herald. (June 15, 2015) From:

http://www.morganton.com/colorado-court-workers-can-be-fired-for-using-pot-off/article_f4f67447-5d36-5e6e-9a67-8548d5fc77a4.html

“24-34-402.5. Unlawful Prohibition of Legal Activities as a Condition of Employment.” Department of Regulatory Agencies. (June 15, 2015) From:

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobheadername2=Content-Type&blobheadervalue1=inline%3B+filename%3D%22Colorado+Anti-Discrimination+Act+statutes+-+unofficial.pdf%22&blobheadervalue2=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251818317123&ssbinary=true

Coats v. Dish Network, LLC., CO 44. No. 13SC394. U.S. (2015)

About the Author: Carole C. Schriefer is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620. The Health Law Firm also has offices in Fort Collins, Colorado and Pensacola, Florida.

KeyWords:  Employment Law, medical marijuana, medical cannabis, marijuana license, defense attorney, drug-free work place, Drug-Free Work Place Act, employee rights, employer rights, employment law, employment termination, Colorado marijuana laws, health care lawyer, health lawyer, law attorney, legalizing marijuana, licensed medical marijuana user, marijuana, medical marijuana license, medical marijuana policy, physician attorney, physician lawyer, workplace marijuana regulations, lawful activity, lawful off-duty activity, federal law, state law, Supreme Court, zero tolerance, zero tolerance drug policy, THC, compliance, Recreational drug laws and regulations, Government regulations, Courts, Colorado, health care, health issues, health law, health law attorney, health law lawyer

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

“Eight Big Things to Watch” for Marijuana Policy in 2015-From Brookings Institution

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Health Law

Marijuana policy has increasing developed through the years. Today, twenty-three states have legalized medical marijuana and four states have approved recreational marijuana, including DC. Below is a summary of The Brookings Institution article “Marijuana Policy in 2015: Eight Big Things to Watch.” During 2015, the country and foreign nations will see big changes involving marijuana policies.


1. New States are Planning and Preparing for Legal Marijuana

In November 2014, recreational marijuana was legalized in Oregon and Alaska. During 2015, state legislatures in their respective state and alcohol regulatory bodies will work side by side to design regulations governing legal marijuana. It is important to watch what these states decide because it may determine whether the states marijuana policy will succeed or fail.

Oregon is making history by becoming the first state to border another who has already legalized marijuana. The border between Oregon and Washington will bring insight into what extent states will go for marijuana market advantages regarding bordering states.


2. Which States will be the next to Legalize Marijuana?

This year will show which states are taking steps to initiate ballots in 2016 to legalize marijuana. California and Florida are two of the states expected to advance an initiative, and other states are likely to follow their lead. Ballot initiatives are expensive, thus, to determine who is pushing follow the money.


3. State Legislatures and Marijuana

During the legalization of recreational or medical marijuana the difficult part of the process is getting it past the state legislature. Throughout 2015 it is important to determine which state legislatures have proposals involving marijuana policy and to keep track of their progress during legislative sessions. Some states, like Tennessee, may propose relaxing bans on hemp production, while others may seek to reaffirm legal bans on marijuana.


4. Marijuana in the Courts

During 2015, numerous high-profile lawsuits centered around marijuana policy are likely to be settled. The most recent decision is Coats v. Dish Network, a Colorado case in which a licensed medical marijuana user was let go after testing positive for the substance during a drug test at Dish Network. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Coats. The court held that employees who engage in medical marijuana use that is allowed by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by Colorado’s “lawful activities statute.” To read a past blog we published on the case Coats v. Dish Network, click here. To view Coats v. Dish Network in its entirety, click here.

Another case to look out for is Nebraska and Oklahoma v. Colorado, in which the states claim that Colorado’s legalization of marijuana is violating federal law and causing problems in bordering states. The Supreme Court’s decision on the case will clarify the federal courts’ willingness to engage in this area of policy.


5. Clarifying DC’s Marijuana Policy

The future of Washington, DC’s marijuana policy will be determined by the federal courts. The court will need to clarify the policy’s future if there is congressional inaction on Initiative 71.


6. Continuation of Marijuana Policies in Colorado, Washington and Uruguay

Both Washington and Colorado are continuing to work on their recreational marijuana policies. Colorado is working through the issues of edibles, product testing, and home-grows. An important issue to watch is the challenge Washington faces in luring consumers away from the black market cost effectively. Overseas, Uruguay will continue to steadily work on a bureaucracy and consumer base for legal marijuana.


7. Current Marijuana Data is Imperfect and Incomplete

It is too early to make conclusive claims about recreational marijuana since there is not enough data. During 2015, and subsequent years, steady flows of data from Colorado and Washington will surface. This data will provide a better idea about the impact of legal recreational marijuana on society.


8. Marijuana as a Topic During the Presidential Campaign

Marijuana will definitely be a topic during the 2015 presidential campaign. Unlike most political issues, marijuana policy is not determined by political party. Thus, it will be interesting to hear the presidential candidates opinions during 2015 since it will be a big part of the campaign.


Comments:

What are your thoughts on the eight big things to watch in 2015? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


Source:

Hudak, John. “Marijuana Policy in 2015: Eight Big Things to Watch.” Brookings Institute. (January 8, 2015). From:
http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2015/01/08-marijuana-policy-2015-things-to-watch-hudak


About the Author:
George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.


Keywords:
Florida medical marijuana, medical cannabis, medical marijuana, medical marijuana lawyer, medical marijuana license, defense attorney, defense lawyer, Charlotte’s Web, health lawyer, marijuana, recreational cannabis, recreational marijuana, The Health Law Firm

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.