On July 17, 2017, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”), the highest state court in Massachusetts, held that an employer could be liable for disability discrimination by declining employment based on an individual’s off-duty medical marijuana use. This is a landmark decision, which has major implications for employers with drug testing programs and drug-free workplace policies. Continue Reading Is Medical Marijuana A Reasonable Accommodation? Mass. Court Says … Possibly

New York state’s Medical Marijuana Program historically has been one of the most restrictive in the United States with strict limitations on the number of licensed producers and various barriers preventing patients from accessing medical cannabis. However, recent expansions to New York’s qualifying conditions and changes to the licensing requirements for medical professionals will allow more patients to participate in the program.   Continue Reading New York Medical Marijuana: Can the Fire Keep Burning?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in the news for two reasons today: he’s testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee on his possible links to Russia and a letter he wrote to Congress indicating his disapproval of the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment has surfaced.

Last month we reported that Congress extended the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment.  No sooner was this extension passed,  but Sessions wrote to Congress seeking its repeal.   As many readers know, the Amendment prohibits the Justice Department from using federal funds to prevent states from implementing their own medical marijuana laws.  It is, in essence, a victory for states’ rights, in the sense that they can decide whether to make medical marijuana legal, without fear of federal government interference.

Yesterday massroots.com, and today The Washington Post reported that in May, Sessions wrote to Congress stating that “it would be unwise for Congress to restrict the discretion of the Department [of Justice] to fund particular prosecutions, particularly in the midst of an historic drug epidemic and potentially long term uptick in violent crime.”

Of course, the “historic drug epidemic” to which Sessions refers has nothing to do with cannabis, but involves opiates, and, according to the Washington Post, a growing body of research shows that opiate overdoses decrease in states in which medical marijuana is legal.  Sessions also wrote that “[t]he Department must be in a position to use all laws available to combat the transnational drug organizations and dangerous traffickers who threaten American lives.”  It is difficult to understand how Rohrabacher-Farr prevents the federal government from enforcing the Controlled Substances Act against those engaged in trafficking in drugs across state lines.

Sessions’ position is contrary to that of the President who expressed support for medical marijuana laws during his campaign.  However, over the past several months there have been a number of mixed signals from the Administration regarding enforcement of the federal prohibition on the possession and sale of cannabis.  These mixed signals have created tremendous uncertainty in all segments of the cannabis industry, but it is hard to believe that the Administration really intends to disrupt what has become a multi-billion dollar industry.

 

 

Seyfarth Synopsis: Last month, a New Jersey Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) held that an employer’s worker’s compensation insurance carrier must reimburse an employee who was injured on-the-job for his medical marijuana.

On ­­January 18, 2010, New Jersey became the 14th state to enact legislation permitting the sale of medical marijuana.  (To read more about the New Jersey medical marijuana law, please see our blog post here.)  Compared to other state medical marijuana laws, the New Jersey medical marijuana program is considered restrictive, and only permits a small set of patients with “qualifying conditions” to be prescribed marijuana.[1]  Further, medical marijuana in New Jersey is amongst the most expensive in the nation with the price of an ounce of marijuana ranging from $425 to $520, not counting the 7% state sales tax.  As with other states, when medical marijuana was introduced in New Jersey, New Jersey employers became fearful of the law’s effect on the workforce. However, an ALJ decision from last month gives new reason for employers, and their worker’s compensation carriers, to be fearful. Continue Reading ALJ Holds that Employer’s Worker’s Compensation Carrier Must Pay for Employee’s Medical Marijuana

As we enter a new year, and approach the one year anniversary of New York’s Medical Marijuana Program,  we are given an opportunity to look back and reflect on the performance of the program, and what lies ahead.

In some ways, the program has been vastly successful.  As of January 3, 2016, 807 practitioners have registered for the Medical Marijuana Program, and 12,067 patients have been certified by their practitioners.

However, the Medical Marijuana Program has also been criticized for its limited access, high prices, and the regulatory hurdles which have discouraged doctors and patients from participating, and have hurt medical marijuana companies trying to grow their business.  For instance, some patients have to travel upwards of three hours to receive the required medication.  Further, many companies have invested in large grow spaces, but due to the restrictive nature of the law, demand has remained low.  Consequently, these companies are using only a marginal fraction of their overall capacity for growth.

Continue Reading New York is Lighting A Fire Under its Budding Cannabis Industry

Earlier this year, Pennsylvania enacted its Medical Marijuana Act, and had until this autumn to promulgate temporary regulations.  Two sets of such regulations have been published, one set governing growers and producers, and the other involving dispensaries.  These revised rules were promulgated after receiving nearly 1,000 comments from citizens across the state, as well as those involved in the medical marijuana business. Continue Reading Weeding Between the Lines: PA Issues Temporary Regulations for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, Growers, and Producers

Tuesday turned out to be a big night for medical marijuana supporters in Florida – with voters overwhelmingly casting their votes in favor of a full-scale medical marijuana program. Florida’s Amendment 2 has the potential to be one of the most permissive medical marijuana rules in the country. Amendment 2 provides that patients with illnesses such as cancer, HIV, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy would be eligible to access medical marijuana. In addition to the prescribed illness, the measure also allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana for “other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.” While the measure requires that the illness be severe – the wording seems to give physicians a lot of leeway in determining which conditions meet the “severe” criteria.

Although the law is set to go into effect in January of 2017, Florida lawmakers must still draft laws regarding how the law will be implemented and regulated, which is set to begin in March 2017. Further, patients themselves must have a 90-day relationship with physicians licensed by the state before obtaining the cannabis.

The Florida chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) filed a civil lawsuit against the Broward County Commissioner of Elections, after news reports indicated that some mail-in ballots did not include a question about a state constitutional amendment on allowing medical marijuana.

The plaintiffs’ are seeking “a judicial declaration enjoining the Defendants from distributing any further ballots, and implementing an emergency plan to issue new ones which insure the inclusion of the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot,” the organization said in a statement.

The claim was filed by NORML’s national vice chairman, Fort Lauderdale attorney Norm Kent, and his law partner, Russell Cormican, on behalf of Florida NORML and Karen Goldstein, NORML Florida’s chair, a West Park, Broward County voter.

Florida’s Amendment 2 would legalize medical marijuana for treating individuals with specific debilitating diseases or comparable debilitating conditions as determined by a licensed state physician.  Limited medical marijuana use is currently permitted under the state’s 2014 Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act; however, the 2016 amendment fully legalizes medical marijuana use and expands protection to a larger category of diseases and conditions.

Politico reported that recent polls show that more than 70 percent of likely Florida voters support the medical marijuana amendment.

 

 

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.

 

Law enforcement officials in Kansas cannot stop and search motorists just for having out-of-state license plates from states that have legalized marijuana, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

 

While much of the nation has turned a blind eye to a modest signature-collecting campaign in Oklahoma working to legalize a statewide medical marijuana program, it was revealed earlier this week that the group behind the proposal has managed to collect gain enough support from the voters to earn a spot on the ballot in the upcoming November election.

 

A group trying to legalize Michigan marijuana for recreational use has failed to persuade a judge to put the question on the fall ballot.

 

Something we missed that everyone needs to know?  Tell us about it in the comments.