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US DC: DC Adds Racial Issue To Debate On Legalizing Pot

Marijuana (MAP) - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 07:00
The Saratogian, 14 Oct 2014 - WASHINGTON (AP) - A debate over legalizing marijuana in the nation's capital is focusing on the outsized number of arrests of African-Americans on minor drug charges. Pot legalization supporters in Colorado and Washington state also spoke about racial justice, but their voters are mostly white and their campaigns focused more on other issues. The race factor hits closer to many more homes in the District, where nearly half the population is black.
Categories: Marijuana

US DC: DC Adds Racial Issue To Debate On Legalizing Pot

Marijuana (MAP) - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 07:00
The Record, 14 Oct 2014 - WASHINGTON (AP) - A debate over legalizing marijuana in the nation's capital is focusing on the outsized number of arrests of African-Americans on minor drug charges. Pot legalization supporters in Colorado and Washington state also spoke about racial justice, but their voters are mostly white and their campaigns focused more on other issues. The race factor hits closer to many more homes in the District, where nearly half the population is black.
Categories: Marijuana

US CA: Lodi City Council Set to Adopt Ordinance on Outdoor

Marijuana (MAP) - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 07:00
Lodi News-Sentinel, 14 Oct 2014 - The Lodi City Council is scheduled to adopt an ordinance prohibiting outdoor marijuana cultivation at its Wednesday meeting. If adopted, the ordinance would prohibit all outdoor cultivation of marijuana within the city.
Categories: Marijuana

US WA: Entrepreneur Taking Leap of Faith With

Marijuana (MAP) - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 07:00
Seattle Times, 14 Oct 2014 - Jamie Hoffman pours a mixture of what looks like pond scum into a cheesecloth bag set up to strain over a plastic measuring bucket below. "We are mad scientists!" she says to her employee, Calvin Kingsly Ward, before letting out a cackle.
Categories: Marijuana

US DC: Nation's Debate on Legalizing Pot Turns to Race

Marijuana (MAP) - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 07:00
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 14 Oct 2014 - WASHINGTON (AP) - A debate over legalizing marijuana in the nation's capital is focusing on the outsize number of arrests of African-Americans on minor drug charges. Pot legalization supporters in Colorado and Washington state also spoke about racial justice, but their voters are mostly white and their campaigns focused more on other issues. The race factor hits closer to many more homes in the District, where nearly half the population is black.
Categories: Marijuana

US DC: Race Added To Debate On Legalizing Pot

Marijuana (MAP) - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 07:00
Republican & Herald, 14 Oct 2014 - WASHINGTON (AP) - A debate over legalizing marijuana in the nation's capital is focusing on the outsized number of arrests of African Americans on minor drug charges. Pot legalization supporters in Colorado and Washington state also spoke about racial justice, but their voters are mostly white and their campaigns focused more on other issues. The race factor hits closer to many more homes in the District, where nearly half the population is black.
Categories: Marijuana

Australia: ACT To Join National Medical Marijuana Trial

Marijuana (MAP) - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 07:00
Canberra Times, 14 Oct 2014 - The ACT will join a Commonwealth-backed national clinical trial of medical cannabis, set to be led by the New South Wales Government. ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher confirmed the territory's involvement in the trial during an official visit to China, welcoming a national approach to the issue after discussions with NSW Premier Mike Baird at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra on Friday.
Categories: Marijuana

California Malpractice Initiative Would Drug Test Doctors [FEATURE]

Marijuana (STDW) - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 22:32

In California, an initiative designed to increase the caps on medical malpractice awards is catching the attention not only of powerful legal and medical interests, but also drug reformers. That's because, in what opponents call a cynical ploy, the malpractice initiative leads with a provision to impose drug testing on doctors.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Proposition 46, whose controversial ballot title is "Drug and Alcohol Testing of Doctors, Medical Negligence Lawsuits. Initiative Statute," would, if passed, make California the first state in the nation to impose drug testing on doctors. According to a Ballotpedia summary, it would:

  • Increase the state's cap on non-economic damages that can be assessed in medical negligence lawsuits to over $1 million, from the current cap of $250,000.
  • Require drug and alcohol testing of doctors and reporting of positive tests to the California Medical Board.
  • Require the California Medical Board to suspend doctors pending investigation of positive tests and take disciplinary action if the doctor was found impaired while on duty.
  • Require health care practitioners to report any doctor suspected of drug or alcohol impairment or medical negligence.
  • Require health care practitioners to consult the state prescription drug history database before prescribing certain controlled substances.

The fight over Prop 46 is shaping up to be the most expensive initiative campaign ever, with rival groups having already raised nearly $70 million. The vast majority of that funding is coming from opponents of the initiative, primarily the very well-heeled state medical community. The No on 46 campaign committee alone has raised nearly $57 million to kill it.

The stakes are huge. Portrayed by supporters -- mainly trial lawyers -- as a boon to patients harmed by medical misconduct and hamstrung by state laws limiting malpractice awards, state analysts estimate that it could cost state health care programs "tens of millions to several hundred million dollars annually," while a legion of hospitals, health clinics, medical practices, and other health care professionals warn that Prop 46 would drive up health care costs across the board while primarily benefiting the bottom line of malpractice lawyers.

Law firms and attorneys' groups are the biggest backers of Prop 46, but they aren't the only ones. The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog is also backing it to the tune of more than $2 million, and has laid out some arguments in favor of it.

"According to a study published in the Journal of Patient Safety, medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the country behind only heart disease and cancer. As many as 440,000 people die each year from preventable medical negligence. That's like a 747 crashing every 10 hours," the group said in a March flyer. "The California Medical Board estimates that almost one-in-five doctors (18%) suffer from drug and/or alcohol abuse at some point during their careers -- and leading medical safety experts have called for random drug testing to curb substance abuse and ensure patient safety."

In that same flyer, Consumer Watchdog also warned that "doctors are the biggest suppliers for chronic prescription drug abusers" and that "drug prescribed by doctors caused or contributed to nearly half of recent prescription drug overdose deaths in California." But such scary claims beg the question of who else would be expected to supply prescription drugs.

[image:2 align:right]While lawyers and some consumer advocates are lining up to support Prop 46, it is also generating a huge and powerful group of opponents, including hundreds of medical groups, health care providers, hospitals, insurance companies, and clinics and private practices worried about rising malpractice insurance costs. It is also opposed by dozens of county medical associations, the state Chamber of Commerce and many local affiliates, along with more than a dozen labor unions.

The strange bedfellow opposition extends even further, with the state Republican Party, the state American Civil Liberties Union (and its local affiliates), and the California NAACP all among groups coming out against Prop 46. Also among its foes are most of the major newspapers in the state, which have thoroughly condemned it.

"If doctors are drug-addled, other doctors and nurses have a duty to report them," the Sacramento Bee editorialized. "If doctors make horrible mistakes during surgery, there might be cause for testing. But Proposition 46 would impose the insulting requirement of random testing on all doctors who have hospital privileges, and require that the Medical Board of California discipline any doctors whose tests are dirty. In its propaganda, Consumer Watchdog jokes about privacy concerns in a lowest-common-denominator video showing that other professionals must provide urine samples. Simply because laws allow for testing of some workers doesn't mean physicians' privacy should be trampled."

The conservative San Diego Tribune was similarly irked by the use of doctor drug testing as a come-on designed to induce voters to favor the initiative, calling it "a pathetic scam" in the title of its editorial.

"Plainly, the doctor drug-testing provision is 'the ultimate sweetener' designed to make this foul brew go down better. It wasn't a critic who used that term," the newspaper noted. "It was Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. Such an openly cynical attempt to manipulate voters shouldn't be rewarded. Vote no on Proposition 46."

The drug testing provision has also provoked opposition from the state's largest marijuana consumer organization, CA NORML, and the Drug Policy Forum of California, which urged supporters to vote no on Prop 46 in its 2014 Election Guide.

[image:3 align:left caption:true]"Drug testing is about marijuana," explained CA NORML head Dale Gieringer. "More than half the drug test positives out there are marijuana. This initiative deceitfully claims to be about alcohol and prescription drug abuse by doctors, but drug testing is almost useless with alcohol -- unless you're actually drunk at the time, I suppose -- and if you closely read the text of the initiative, you see that prescription drugs are perfectly excusable as long as the doctor has a prescription. So, there's a medical excuse for the prescription drugs mentioned in the ads, but not for medical marijuana, since the initiative only allows exemptions for prescribed controlled substances."

The drug testing regime proposed by the initiative is antiquated, too, Gieringer said.

"This thing is using urinalysis drug testing standards promulgated by the feds a generation ago," he pointed out. "The list of illegal drugs includes PCP -- yeah, that's a major problem, all those docs on PCP -- but doesn't include the new synthetics. And the list specifically includes marijuana metabolites, but not THC. That's because they're relying on urinalysis, which can't detect active THC, so only the inactive metabolite is being considered under this insidious proposition."

In other words, the drug tests wouldn't catch doctors with alcohol problems unless they were literally drinking on the job, would excuse the presence of prescription drugs if the doctor had a prescription, and wouldn't find doctors who were actually high on pot, but would find those who had used the substance days or weeks earlier. But it sounded good in focus groups.

"As we know, the drug testing provision was an afterthought," Gieringer said. "This is being done by trial lawyers, and the basic purpose is to heighten the limits on malpractice liability. But those focus groups showed everybody liked the idea of drug testing doctors."

The drug testing provision may indeed have been a sweetener designed to improve Prop 46's chances at the polls next month. But the well-funded and broad-based opposition campaign is taking its toll.

Although it polled well in a June Field poll, coming in with 58% support, support has declined since then. An August Field poll saw support plummet, with only 34% in favor, 37% opposed, and 29% undecided. But it isn't over until it's over. The number of undecideds less than a month out is big enough to swing the results either way.

The airwaves across California are already filled with Prop 46 campaign ads. We can only expect them to increase in the next few weeks as the deep-pocketed contenders throw everything they've got at the voters in the final days of campaigning.

Categories: Marijuana

Chronicle AM: MO MJ Actions, CT Patients Want Buds, AL Goes After Pregnant Drug Users, More (10/13/14)

Marijuana (STDW) - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 21:31

Missouri marijuana activists are keeping things hopping, Connecticut patients want actual buds, the Washington Post continues its asset forfeiture series, the Labor Department issues proposed rules for unemployment compensation drug testing, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Show-Me Cannabis Activist Sues Missouri Narcs for Violating Sunshine Law. Aaron Malin, a member of the Missouri marijuana reform group Show-Me Cannabis, has filed suit against the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association for failing to hand over documents and information about budgets and training the group provides to narcotics officers. The lawsuit could clarify the question of whether the association is subject to the state's Sunshine Law. Malin argues that because much of the group's funding comes from dues and training paid for by members of taxpayer-funded drug task forces, it is a quasi-governmental entity and therefore subject to the law.

Columbia, Maryland, Cultivation Decriminalization Advances. The city's Disabilities Commission voted unanimously last week to endorse an ordinance that would decriminalize the cultivation of up to two marijuana plants. People caught growing two plants would face only a $250 fine; seriously ill people would face no fine. The city council had asked various commissions to weigh in; the Board of Health and the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission came down against the proposal. The council will take it up at a meeting next Monday.

Medical Marijuana

Connecticut Patients Want Whole Buds, Not Ground-Up Whole Plant. State medical marijuana regulations require that the plant be ground up, and that's not sitting well with some patients and activists. Homogenizing the plant results in "the degradation of the cannabinoids, the actual essential oils that are in the flower," explained Peter Mould, executive director of Connecticut NORML, who has posted a petition at change.org (search for "medical marijuana CT") asking state regulators to allow the sale of whole buds.

Asset Forfeiture

Seized Cash Fuels Law Enforcement Spending. The Washington Post continues to hammer away at asset forfeiture. This latest in an ongoing series of articles examines what law enforcement agencies are buying with the hundreds of millions of dollars they have seized under federal asset forfeiture laws. The Post examined 43,000 annual reports from police agencies under the Justice Department's Equitable Sharing program. While some of the spending is justifiable, the Post also found seized funds paying for luxury vehicles, travel expenses, and even a clown named Sparkles. It's a long, but worthwhile read.

Drug Testing

Labor Department Issues Proposed Rule for Unemployment Compensation Drug Testing; Limits It to Job Categories Where Drug Testing is Required. The department is responding to the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which has a provision allowing states to drug test people seeking unemployment compensation. "We propose that an applicant may be drug tested by the State in order to be eligible to receive State UC if the applicant's only suitable work, as defined under the State UC law, is in a position or class of positions, i.e., an 'occupation,' for which Federal law or that State's law requires employee drug testing in that occupation," the department proposed.

Harm Reduction

Michigan Governor Signs Overdose Prevention Law. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) today signed into law a bill that requires emergency medical responders to be trained to administer the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone (Narcan). The legislation, House Bill 5407, is part of a package of bills dealing with the issue. Snyder signed them all.

Pregnancy

Two More Alabama Counties Start Charging Pregnant Women Who Test Positive for Illegal Drugs. Calhoun and Cleburne counties now join Etowah County in seeking to prosecute pregnant women who use drugs, saying the move is designed to deter them from using drugs. That's even though there is a strong consensus among the medical community that criminalizing pregnant women hooked on drugs is not good for either mother or child, because the threat of arrest may deter pregnant women from seeking adequate prenatal health care.

International

Medical Marijuana Momentum in Australia. The government of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) announced today that it will join in a national clinical trial on medical marijuana. It will join in trials being conducted by the New South Wales government. Nearly two-thirds of Australians support medical marijuana, according to a July poll, and both the national and various state governments are becoming more receptive.

Categories: Marijuana

US FL: Make All Marijuana Legal, Says Florida Libertarian

Marijuana (MAP) - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:00
Bradenton Herald, 13 Oct 2014 - ST. PETERSBURG -- Republican Gov. Rick Scott opposes the amendment that would make medical marijuana legal in Florida. His Democratic challenger, former Gov. Charlie Crist, favors it. And then there's the Libertarian candidate in the race, Adrian Wyllie, who thinks even recreational marijuana should be legal.
Categories: Marijuana

US AZ: Arizona Lawmaker Plans to Propose Pot Legalization

Marijuana (MAP) - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:00
Arizona Daily Sun, 13 Oct 2014 - PHOENIX (AP) -- An Arizona lawmaker plans to introduce a proposal next year to legalize recreational marijuana before a similar proposal could get decided by voters in 2016. Republican Rep. Ethan Orr of Tucson aims to convince fellow conservatives that a voter-approved measure is nearly impossible to change once it is approved and not the way to set up a complex system of rules and taxes for the drug, The Arizona Capitol Times reported Monday.
Categories: Marijuana

US DC: D.C. Council Could Delay Pot Legalization

Marijuana (MAP) - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:00
Washington Post, 13 Oct 2014 - Some Want Rules in Place First to Avoid Uncertainty D.C. voters are likely to legalize marijuana possession in the District next month. But it could be many more months, perhaps a year or more, before residents would be able to legally purchase non-medicinal marijuana.
Categories: Marijuana

US CO: Edu: Column: Debate Recap: Hickenlooper shows integrity

Marijuana (MAP) - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:00
The Rocky Mountain Collegian, 13 Oct 2014 - Thursday night, I had the privilege to observe the debate between Gov. John Hickenlooper and his opponent, former Congressman Bob Beauprez. There were three questions in particular that struck me as important for understanding the differences between the candidates. The first of these came over a question about recreational marijuana. Asked if it was time to consider a repeal of the law passed two years ago, Hickenlooper stated that it was too early to say, and stressed that tighter regulation and more research into the effects of marijuana on developing minds would be a more prudent way forward. Beauprez, when given the chance to answer the same question, stated that it was high time that repeal be put to a vote. This was extraordinary for a few reasons. First, because the issue of legalization had already been put to a vote two years ago, with obvious results. Second, Beauprez, supposedly representing the party of small government, would like to bring back prohibition, which has a nasty habit of increasing the size of government, in both enforcement and bureaucracy. Lastly, marijuana is a rapidly growing industry, the repeal of which would hurt the economy and drive all of the projected $40 million in tax revenue back underground. In ! short, no question better illustrated the lack of integrity between the rhetoric and the reality of the Beauprez campaign.
Categories: Marijuana

US: Drug Use At Work Roils Firms

Marijuana (MAP) - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:00
Wall Street Journal, 13 Oct 2014 - While Overall Rates Have Declined, Use of Heroin and Other Opioids Has Surged When Mark Jurman started as plant manager at a piston factory in Marinette, Wis., two years ago, he quickly realized how deeply the area's heroin and pain-pill problem was afflicting his workforce.
Categories: Marijuana

US FL: Edu: OPED: Medical Marijuana Amendment Concerns About

Marijuana (MAP) - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:00
The Independent Florida Alligator, 13 Oct 2014 - On Oct. 8, Lindsay Alexander wrote a column opposing the approval of Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Alexander's concerns about Amendment 2 are misguided. I have studied Amendment 2 and many other states' medical marijuana legislation, and I can confidently say that she is mistaken about the amendment's meaning and about the consequences for our state that passing Amendment 2 will have.
Categories: Marijuana

Italy: Italy's Army Ordered to Start Potting Marijuana

Marijuana (MAP) - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:00
Scotsman, 13 Oct 2014 - ITALY legalised marijuana for medical use last year, but the high cost of buying pot in a pharmacy meant that few people signed up. Now, the government has found a solution get the army to grow it.
Categories: Marijuana

US OK: Editorial: Considerable Downside to Decriminalization

Marijuana (MAP) - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:00
The Oklahoman, 13 Oct 2014 - MARIJUANA legalization was highlighted in a recent debate between Oklahoma candidates for a U.S. Senate seat. This issue continues to bubble up in political discussions, so it's important that associated policy decisions be based on facts. Research continues to identify significant consequences to recreational marijuana use. The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, state Sen. Connie Johnson of Oklahoma City, supports decriminalizing marijuana use. She defended that stance in the debate. Her opponent, U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, isn't a fan of that idea.
Categories: Marijuana

US FL: A New DUI Law With Marijuana?

Marijuana (MAP) - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 07:00
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 12 Oct 2014 - Two years from now, Florida police may have a new category of impairment to consider: driving under the influence of a physician-recommended intoxicant. Assuming Amendment 2 passes on Nov. 4 allowing the use of medical marijuana in the state, residents would be able to treat a raft of conditions - ranging from cancer to glaucoma - with the plant.
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US OR: Editorial: It's Time To Legalize Marijuana

Marijuana (MAP) - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 07:00
The Mail Tribune, 12 Oct 2014 - In 2012, we recommended voters reject a ballot measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana because it was badly written and likely to create more problems than it solved. This year, a group of legalization advocates have put forward a very detailed, carefully worded initiative that has none of the drawbacks of the 2012 measure. We think Ballot Measure 91 strikes the right balance between Colorado's overly permissive law and Washington state's excessively restrictive statute. Voters should approve it.
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US WA: Pipe Dreams

Marijuana (MAP) - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 07:00
The Herald, 12 Oct 2014 - Glass Bong Maker Doesn't Have to Disguise the Purpose of His Functional Art Anymore For Jared Betty, the glass pipe has gone from being half empty to half full. Recreational pot in Washington has been a boon for the glass artist specializing in pipes.
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