Canada to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in 2017: Spring Breakers to Go North Next Year

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On April 20, 2016, Canada’s Health Minister announced that the Canadian government will introduce a new law in the Spring of 2017 to legalize recreational marijuana and regulate sales. This law fulfills Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election pledge and follows the footsteps of several U.S. states that are attempting to decriminalize and permit easy access to the drug.

The Details.

Canada’s Health Minister Jane Philpott, who recently spoke at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, said the Canadian law will ensure marijuana is kept away from children and keep criminals from profiting from its sales. “We will work with law enforcement partners to encourage appropriate and proportionate criminal justice measures,” she said. “We know it is impossible to arrest our way out of them problem.”

Since many major Canadian cities are located within 100 miles of the U.S. border, Canada’s legalization could spur border states to enact their own legislation to prevent the exodus of tourism dollars.

Medical and Recreational Marijuana: Separate Issues.

The use of medical marijuana is a separate issue from recreational marijuana in Canada and is already legal. Canada’s medical marijuana growers say the rise in illegal marijuana dispensaries is costing them valuable customers and money.

Toronto’s former chief of police Bill Blair, has emphasized current laws banning marijuana remain in effect, but illegal dispensaries have multiplied since Justin Trudeau, who became prime minister after his Liberal Party came into power. To read more on his pledge to legalize and regulate marijuana, click here.

The Canadian government has not yet provided details on the production and distribution plans.

To read one of my prior blogs on the use of recreational marijuana, click here.

Spring Breakers To Go North?

In light of Canada’s marihoochee initiative, and the misplaced efforts of Florida vacation cities to ban alcohol, it may very well be that many spring breakers will decide to go north, instead of south next year. A recent article on Panama City Beach advised that its businesses have suffered their worst year in recent history, driven primarily by reduced revenues during spring break. This was allegedly caused by a strong crackdown on public alcohol consumption by anyone. Gee, who would have ever guessed that this might negatively affect tourism dollars and business income in a resort beach community? Click here to read the article in full.

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:
Kovac, Adam. “Canada aims for pot legalization in 2017.” USA Today. (April 26, 2016). Web.

Freeman, Alan. “Canada to introduce legislation in 2017 to legalize the sale of maijuana.” The Washington Post. (April 20, 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 legislation, decriminalization of marijuana, recreational marijuana legislation in Canada, regulating sales of marijuana, marijuana growers, marijuana distributors, Canada’s 2017 legislation to legalize marijuana, health care attorney, defense lawyer, health law defense attorney, medical marijuana, Florida medical cannabis, medical marijuana defense attorney, health law, 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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Pennsylvania House of Representatives Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On March 16, 2016, Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives passed a measure that would legalize medical marijuana in certain forms. The vote was 149-43, with all voting Democrats and more than half of Republicans in support of the bill. The bill now moves onto the Senate, which has already approved an earlier version of the measure 10 months ago.

Growth in Medical Marijuana Programs.

In 2014, the Senate approved medical marijuana legislation, but stalled in committee and never reached a vote in the House. In 2015, the original version of the bill passed the Senate by a 40-7 vote. House Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, who is a major proponent of medical marijuana said, “We want to get this done ASAP.”

The bill that passed would establish a system of growers and dispensaries to provide marijuana to patients with certain conditions. These conditions include cancer, epilepsy, HIV and AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). All patients are required to be certified by a doctor.

The Stipulations of the Bill.

Under this bill, patients would be allowed to use marijuana in the form of a pill or oil, or through vaporization but they would not be allowed to smoke it. Sales from the dispensaries would be taxed at 5 percent, with the money paying for the Department of Health (DOH) operations for the program. It will also go toward law enforcement and drug abuse services and for research about medical marijuana in general.

Gov. Tom Wolf, indicated that he was eager to pass the legislation and sign the finished product. “We will finally provide the essential help needed by patients suffering from seizures cancer and other illnesses,” Mr. Wolf stated.

If you want to learn more about medical marijuana legislation, click here to read our medical marijuana law blog.  Be sure to check back regularly as we update our blog with helpful information frequently.

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:

Packel, Dan. “Medical Marijuana Bill Clears Pa. House.” Law360. (March 16, 2016). Web.

Langley, Karen. “Pennsylvania House passes medical marijuana bill.” Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau. (March 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: medical marijuana, medical marijuana growers, medical marijuana cultivation, medical marijuana license, Pennsylvania medical cannabis, medical marijuana lawyer, marijuana attorney, low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis, Department of Health (DOH), Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, medical marijuana regulations, The Health Law Firm, health law attorney, cannabis for treatment of debilitating medical condition, formal administrative hearing

“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.

Cancer Patients Must Provide DOH Approval for Seizures and Muscle Spasms, or May Be Unqualified for Low-THC Medical Marijuana

6 Indest-2008-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Health Law

Barnhart v. Dep’t of Health, Div. Admin. Hearings, Case No. 15-1271RP (Final Order April 10, 2015).

Following is a summary of a recent Division of Administrative Hearings case summary, taken from The Florida Bar Administrative Law Section Newsletter, Vol. 36, No. 4 (June 2015).

FACTS: On February 6, 2015, the Department of Health (“DOH”) published a notice of proposed rule-making setting forth the text of six proposed rules to implement the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 (“the Act”). The Act provides in part that certain physicians treating patients suffering from cancer or a condition that chronically produces seizures or severe muscle spasms may order low-THC cannabis for those patients’ treatment.

The Petitioner filed a Petition asserting that one of the proposed rules (64-4.002) is an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority.  In support thereof, the Petitioner alleged that she is a four-year-old Florida resident diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and she treats her condition with medical cannabis extracts. The Petitioner further alleged that she plans to register with the Office of Compassionate Use Registry to become a “qualified patient” for the medical use of low THC cannabis.

The Petition also contained allegations regarding the harm that would result without an adopted rule. For instance, the Petition alleged there is a “desperate need for access to low THC cannabis” and that expedited rule promulgation was necessary because the “selected applicants will be responsible for ensuring access to ordered medication, with greater risk of public injury if there is no access to medicine.” The Petition also asserted that potential applicants eligible to become dispensing organizations would be harmed by the proposed rule’s “overly burdensome” application, scoring, and selection process.

OUTCOME: After affording Petitioner leave to file an amended Petition, the ALJ dismissed the Petition due to a lack of standing when Petitioner chose not to file an amended Petition.

The ALJ concluded the Petitioner’s allegations failed to demonstrate that she could become a “qualified patient” and thus potentially eligible for a physician’s order to receive low-THC cannabis.

The ALJ noted that while the Petitioner alleges that she has an inoperable brain tumor, she does not allege that her “condition falls within the narrow parameters of the Act, that is, that Petitioner has cancer or that Petitioner’s medical condition chronically causes seizures or muscle spasms.” Moreover, even if Petitioner had sufficiently alleged that she could be a “qualified patient,” the allegations were insufficient to show that Petitioner would suffer a real or sufficiently immediate injury in fact resulting from application of the proposed rule.

However, the ALJ rejected DOH’s argument that a “qualified patient” could never have standing to challenge proposed rule 64-4.002. While noting that the proposed rule only addresses the application requirements, scoring, and selection process for dispensing organizations, the ALJ concluded that qualified patient status, “when adequately alleged, might, hypothetically, be sufficient as part of the predicate for standing to challenge rules implementing the Act.”

Editor’s Notes on Case Summary:

This case demonstrates a common situation for many Florida residents who suffer from conditions like cancer: denial of medical marijuana. The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 states that in order to qualify for the cannabis, the patient must produce symptoms of seizure and persistent muscle spasms. If the patient is younger than 18 years of age, a second physician must concur the initial physician’s determination. In this case, 4-year-old Dahlia Barnhart, who suffers from a brain tumor, failed to demonstrate that her condition produces seizures and spasms, and therefore was denied low-THC. In court documents, you must allege that you are eligible for the physician’s order.

Comments?

Do you think that 4-year-old Dahlia Barnhart qualifies for medical marijuana? Do you have a chronic condition that was denied medical marijuana? 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.

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: license, defense attorney, health law, health care attorney, health care lawyer, health investigation, medical license, Department of Health, DOH, health attorney, medical marijuana lawyer, medical cannabis, cannabis, marijuana, Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, THC, medical THC, health conditions, cancer, cancer patients, brain tumor, petitions, Florida, Office of Compassionate Use, ALJ, administrative law judge, physicians, Florida marijuana, administrative hearing, petition for rule challenge

“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.