Monday, November 23, 2015

Fired medical marijuana users eligible for unemployment benefits after Michigan court ruling

DETROIT, MI -- The Michigan Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Agency in a case involving benefits for people fired from jobs over medical marijuana use.

The denial means people with medical marijuana cards who lost work after failing drug tests will continue to be eligible for unemployment benefits, based on an October 2014 appeals court ruling.
The Unemployment Insurance Agency appealed lower court decisions out of Macomb and Ingham counties that reversed rulings from the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission that said fired workers were disqualified from jobless benefits.

The state appeals court in one consolidated decision upheld those rulings.

"Claimants tested positive for marijuana and would ordinarily have been disqualified for
unemployment benefits under MESA (Michigan Employment Security Act), however, because there was no evidence to suggest that the positive drug tests were caused by anything other than claimants' use of medical marijuana in accordance with the terms of the MMMA (Michigan Medical Marijuana Act), the denial of the benefits constituted an improper penalty for the medical use of marijuana under the MMMA," the court ruled last year. 

"Because the MMMA supersedes conflicting provisions of MESA, the circuit courts did not err by reversing the MCAC's rulings that claimants were not entitled to unemployment compensation benefits."

And the Supreme Court, in a brief order issued Wednesday, declined to review the case, "because we are not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court."

The workers involved in the case were Jenine Kemp, who was fired in 2011 from Hayes Green Memorial Hospital in Charlotte, and Stephen Kudzia, who was fired in 2012 from Avasi Services, a subsidiary of Art Van Furniture in Warren.

Both were prescribed marijuana-infused medication, Kudzia to treat knee pain after two surgeries, and Kemp to treat lupus, neuropathy, and chronic pain in her hand, according to court records. Both were fired after drug tests revealed the marijuana use.

The case initially also involved Rick Braska, who used medical marijuana for chronic back pain and was fired in 2009 from his Grand Rapids job as a forklift operator at Challenge Manufacturing Company.

Braska's case was dismissed in June after he died.
A previous federal court decision found that Michigan's medical marijuana law did not prohibit a private employer from firing a worker who used medical marijuana.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

UK Independant: "Medical marijuana research being stifled by US government"

   The federal government is strangling vital research into medical marijuana, claims a report by a major US think-tank. “Statutory, regulatory, bureaucratic, and cultural barriers have paralysed science and threatened the integrity of research freedom in this area,” says the report by the Brookings Institution.

   The report’s authors, John Hudak and Grace Wallack, say the debate is not really about marijuana at all. Rather, it is about scientific freedom, and improving public health. Right now, the Food and Drug Administration classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, with “no medically accepted use.”
Researchers have to go through an onerous application process to acquire medical marijuana for studies, and can wait years to get officially sanctioned product from the one legal growing facility in Mississippi.

   "These bureaucratic policies are not only unscientific, they lack common sense," Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation, told The Independent. He said the agencies that control research into marijuana also oversee federal prohibition of marijuana, so are naturally inclined to stymie research. The lack of federal support makes universities leery of compromising their reputations by studying medical marijuana, the report says.

    So what’s to be done? Activists and lobbyists focus on rescheduling marijuana to a Schedule II drug, but according to the authors, that is not enough. Scientists need comprehensive reforms, like expanding the Compassionate Use Programme and an end to the federal monopoly on legal marijuana production.

   An act of Congress could cut through the tangled regulations, and as it happens, there is a bipartisan bill wending its way through Congress now. The bipartisan CARERS act would end federal prohibition of marijuana, and allow each state to craft its own policies on medical marijuana.
Mr Armentano was not optimistic. He said there' was already ample scientific evidence that cannabis had medical utility, but that "science has never driven marijuana policy. If it did, the United States would already have a very different policy in place."

   Dan Riffle, who handles federal lobbying at the Marijuana Policy Project went a step further. "Marijuana, like alcohol, is a drug that is used primarily by adults in social settings, and like alcohol, should be removed from the list of controlled substances altogether and regulated as such," he said.
Riffle praised the CARERS Act, but points out it would have to get past the "old-school drug warriors" of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Federal Judge Lifts US Injunction on Marin Alliance (CA) for Medical Marijuana


US District Court Judge Charles Breyer lifted the federal injunction against the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana  in light of the Congressional Appropriations Act precluding expenditure of DOJ funds against medical marijuana operations that are compliant with state law.

 The court ruled,  "As long as Congress precludes the Dept of Justice from expending funds in the manner proscribed by Section 538 [of the appropriations act], the permanent injunction will only be enforced against MAMM insofar as that organization is in violation of California "State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana"  See 2015 Appropriations AC Sec. 538; Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)."

 The Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana had been the oldest operating medical dispensary anywhere prior to being shut down by US Attorney Melinda Haag in a 2011 federal crackdown against dispensaries in Northern California.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Finding cannabinoids in hair does not prove cannabis consumption

According to a scientific report published earlier this year,

"Hair analysis for cannabinoids is extensively applied in workplace drug testing and in child protection cases, although valid data on incorporation of the main analytical targets, ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and 11-nor-9-carboxy-THC (THC-COOH), into human hair is widely missing. Furthermore, ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid A (THCA-A), the biogenetic precursor of THC, is found in the hair of persons who solely handled cannabis material. In the light of the serious consequences of positive test results the mechanisms of drug incorporation into hair urgently need scientific evaluation. Here we show that neither THC nor THCA-A are incorporated into human hair in relevant amounts after systemic uptake. THC-COOH, which is considered an incontestable proof of THC uptake according to the current scientific doctrine, was found in hair, but was also present in older hair segments, which already grew before the oral THC intake and in sebum/sweat samples. Our studies show that all three cannabinoids can be present in hair of non-consuming individuals because of transfer through cannabis consumers, via their hands, their sebum/sweat, or cannabis smoke. This is of concern for e.g. child-custody cases as cannabinoid findings in a child’s hair may be caused by close contact to cannabis consumers rather than by inhalation of side-stream smoke."

See the full article (along with references) here: