• Minnesota to offer Medical Marijuana, but with Restrictions

    June 30, 2015

    From July 1, 2015, Minnesota will lift the ban on medical marijuana products and allow the users to consume liquid and pill extracts of marijuana plants. But, it will come with restrictions. Only people suffering from serious ailments such as Epilepsy, HIV AIDS and Cancer will be able to take advantage of the new law, which also restricts sales of medical marijuana to only 8 dispensaries within the state.

    Minnesota does not allow the use of marijuana as smokable cannabis. The activists, who have been waging a long battle in favor of medical marijuana, are not very upset. They are still hopeful. They consider it as the first step forward and hope that restrictions will be eased soon.

    Bob Capecchi of the Marijuana Policy Project, which took the lead to legalize pot for medical use, said, "The door is opening. This will start helping people out. That’s really what this is all about." The medical marijuana advocates in Minnesota had a great success contrary to expectations when they got the approval in the form of a legislation to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

    While smoking of pot will remain illegal, pills, oils and vapors will be available to patients with the above mentioned ailments. The marijuana advocates have urged the state to allow more than eight dispensaries, add more manufacturers (currently, only two are allowed), add patients who suffer from chronic pain to the list, and lift the ban on smoking the drug.

  • White House removes Restrictions on Marijuana Research

    June 23, 2015

    The White House has taken a historic step by allowing research into the medical properties of marijuana. It has removed the Public Health Service review requirement to facilitate research into the drug. Not only supporters, but also the opponents of marijuana had called for the removal of restrictions so that truth is not suppressed under the carpet.

    Currently, marijuana research is not funded by the government. It will have to go through a rigorous process of Public Health Service review, which was established in 1999 by the federal government. The decision was taken after 1998 Institute of Medicine report called for more scientific research into the medical value of marijuana.

    Under the Controlled Substances Act, the United States has five categories for drugs and drug ingredients. Marijuana has been classified as Schedule I, which includes drugs with highest potential for abuse and no medical value. Other substances such as Heroin and LSD also fall under Schedule I.

    Marijuana has been under regulatory restrictions since 1999, making it difficult for the researchers to carry out their study. As the government termed it difficult to use safely, even in a medical capacity, the researchers wanted to research further on this substance to find out the truth and educate people of its positive effects too. Many studies tried to show marijuana's positive effects on certain conditions, but they were rejected outright.

    While experts believe that the change in federal policy due to a flexible stand taken by the Obama Administration, which has actively supported scientific research on the safety and effectiveness of marijuana, some others believe that the shift is due to a change in political climate. As several states have legalized marijuana, the federal government has relaxed the norms although it has still banned both medical and recreational pot.
  • House Rejects Marijuana Legalization Efforts in Maine

    June 22, 2015

    The Lawmakers in Maine, have rejected a bill that would have legalized recreational marijuana in the state. The bill will go to Republican-dominated Senate, but it might suffer the similar fate. The bill, LD 1380, was introduced by Democratic Rep. Diane Russel, a long-time supporter of marijuana legalization. It sought to allow adults 21 and older to possess and use marijuana for non-medical purposes.

    The bill will now to the Republican-dominated Senate, but it might suffer a similar fate there too. The bill was aimed at setting up a system to allow marijuana to be regulated, taxed and sold like alcohol. Currently, 23 States in USA and D.C. have legalized medical marijuana. Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon have already allowed recreational pot, while D.C. is awaiting the Congress nod.

    The Democratic-controlled state House in Maine rejected the legislation by 98-45 margin. It was supposed to establish a framework for such a law to be enacted. The voters' approval still hold the key in either case. “We have learned so much from Colorado and Washington state, but the biggest thing we have learned is to not get caught off guard,” Russell said last month in favor of the bill.

    Some Lawmakers defended their stand, saying the rejected the bill, as they did not want to take any decision in haste without reading the people's mind. Marijuana legalization will go the voters in 2016, thanks to the state approval of a petition by pro-marijuana group in April 2015. The group will need 61,000 signatures by January 22 to get the referendum on November 2016 ballot. It can be noted that Maine had legalized medical marijuana in 1999.
  • Oregon launches Campaign to spread Marijuana Awareness

    June 19, 2015

    As Oregon has legalized recreational marijuana and is all set to allow people above the age of 21 to possess and use pot from July 1, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission has launched a public education campaign, 'Educate Before You Recreate', which is aimed at educating the people about the restrictions related to its use.

    The campaign, launched at a cost of $350,000, includes paid advertisements and social media promotion. It has a website at www.whatslegaloregon.com, which provides PowerPoint presentation.

    Here are the Details of the Campaign:

    WHAT'S LEGAL?

    Under Measure 91, starting July 1, anyone over 21 in Oregon can possess up to 8 ounces of usable marijuana, such as dried buds at home and up to one ounce outside the home. You can consume marijuana at home or on private property. You can grow up to four plants per residence at home out of public view. You can make brownies and other edible products at home and receive them as gifts. And you can give away marijuana and receive it as a gift.

    WHAT'S NOT LEGAL?

    It is illegal to buy or sell recreational marijuana and to transport it across state lines. That includes buying some from a legal retail outlet in Washington state and bringing it home to Oregon. It is illegal to smoke marijuana in public or to drive while stoned. Measure 91 will not protect you if your employer prohibits drug use, especially if there is a federal connection, because marijuana remains illegal under federal law. And if your landlord prohibits smoking in your apartment, you can be evicted for smoking marijuana, but not for eating it.

    WHEN CAN I BUY IT LEGALLY?

    There is no hard date. The OLCC does not expect to have the chain of retail recreational marijuana growers, processors, wholesalers and sales outlets permitted and operating until late in 2016. There has been talk in the Legislature about jumpstarting that by allowing recreational marijuana sales through medical marijuana dispensaries as early as October, but that remains up in the air.

    WHAT ARE PEOPLE SUPPOSED TO DO?

    There is no good answer to that question. You could receive marijuana as a gift. OLCC spokesman Tom Towslee said the agency has no advice on that score, "But one of the things we learned during listening sessions around the state is that Oregonians are resourceful, and where there's a will, there's a way."

    WHAT WILL THE POLICE DO?

    John Bishop, executive director of the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association, says anyone buying or selling marijuana without a license is still subject to arrest. But he adds that authorities will continue to focus on large amounts of marijuana.

  • Georgia to issue Medical Marijuana Cards Today

    June 16, 2015

    Georgia will make history on Tuesday, as its Department of Public Health’s website will go live with the launch of medical marijuana cards. Governor Nathan Deal termed the moment as emotional and said it would be a victory for parents of kids with severe seizure disorders, as they acted as the driving force for him signing the bill into law.

    "No parent can watch their children suffering from multiple seizures everyday. Thus, we decided to help them after putting ourselves in their place," said Governor Deal. The medical marijuana cards to be issued today, would be tamper proof. Patients won't be able to get approval for the cards on their own. The application need to be submitted by their doctor.

    The medical marijuana cards will help the patients get the cannabis oil. Eight types of diseases - cancer, Multiple sclerosis, sickle cell anemia, Crohn’s Disease, Mitochondrial Disease, ALS, Parkinson’s and severe seizure disorders meet the criteria.

    The people, with medical marijuana cards, will have temporary permits to legally use cannabis oil in the state. So far, patients from Georgia, who were in dire need of medical marijuana, used to take refuge in states like Colorado. Many such medical marijuana refugees are now returning home after Georgia passed the law two months ago.

    It can be recalled that Gov. Nathan Deal was brought to tears when he signed the bill on April 16, 2015. The new law allows the use of cannabis oil to treat the above eight medical conditions. Patients can possess up to 20 ounces of cannabis oil with low levels of THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes a high.
  • Workers can be Fired for Off-Duty Marijuana Use: Colorado Court

    June 16, 2015

    In a historic judgment, the Colorado Supreme Court, while hearing a workplace lawsuit, ruled that employees who use marijuana off the job and away from work, can still be fired if their employers wish so. This verdict will have far-reaching consequences of marijuana users in Colorado, a state has legalized both medical and recreational use of pot, which is still prohibited under the federal law.

    The court was hearing the case of a customer service worker Brandon Coats, who was fired from Dish Network in 2010 after testing positive for marijuana in a random drug test. Coats, who has a state-issued medical marijuana license uses pot to control the seizures he suffered due to his quadriplegia. He got paralyzed following a car accident. Coats clarified that he was using medical marijuana only when he was not working.

    The Supreme Court did not buy the arguments of his lawyer and said that Dish Network did not violate Colorado's lawful activities statute when it fired Coats. “The term ‘lawful’ refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law,” said the unanimous 6-0 decision.

    Dish Network expressed happiness at the verdict and said, “As a national employer, Dish remains committed to a drug-free workplace and compliance with federal law." Experts believe this ruling will set a precedent across the United States. It won't give employers any more guidance and leave the employees with no choice but to adhere to the law. The verdict is seen as a big setback to the marijuana advocates.

  • Federal Government asks Employees to stay away from Marijuana

    May 30, 2015


    Even though 23 states in the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana and Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Washington, D.C, have allowed the use of recreational marijuana, the Federal Government is not a mood to relent and has asked its employees to stay away from marijuana or face strong disciplinary action.

    The guidelines issued by Katherine Archuleta, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, clearly stated that federal law on marijuana remains unchanged despite some states legalizing the pot. In no uncertain terms, marijuana use for more than 4.1 million federal employees across the nation is banned, the guidance said. It was sent to the heads of all federal departments and agencies.

    "Marijuana is categorized as a controlled substance under Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act. Thus knowing or intentional marijuana possession is illegal, even if an individual has no intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense marijuana," stated the guidance.

    "Drug involvement can raise questions about an individual's reliability, judgment, and trustworthiness or ability or willingness to comply with laws, rules, and regulations, thus indicating his or her employment might not promote the efficiency or protect the integrity of the service. However, the individual's conduct must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis," Archuleta said.

    The 23 states have managed to legalize marijuana only because of federal guidance that asked federal prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations. However, Federal employees need to adhere to the Drug-Free Workplace Act guidelines, which ban the use of any illegal drugs, on and off duty.