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Court Says Walmart’s Firing Violated Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Law

George IndestBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On March 22, 2019, the U.S. District Court in Arizona granted summary judgment on anti-discrimination claims in favor of the plaintiff former employee and against Walmart under Arizona’s medical marijuana statute. The plaintiff, a former employee of Walmart, had been terminated after allegedly testing positive for marijuana.

This case is significant because as more states are adopting medical marijuana laws, this represents the growing risks to employers who engage in adverse employment actions against medical marijuana users. Furthermore, since the decision was in federal court, it is even more significant. In this case, Arizona employers gained some much needed guidance for navigating Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).

The court held that individuals with medical marijuana cards can sue their employers under the AMMA if action is taken against them merely because there is a positive drug test for the presence of marijuana. Also, employers cannot avoid liability by merely showing the employee tested positive because he or she had marijuana metabolites in their system.

The Case: Whitmire v. Wal-Mart, Inc.

In Whitmire v. Wal-Mart Inc., a former employee and qualified patient under the AMMA, injured her wrist while at work. Two days later, she notified human resources of pain and swelling in her injured wrist. At that time, her supervisor instructed her to seek medical treatment. Because she had used marijuana roughly twelve hours before her shift to help her sleep, the drug test was positive for marijuana.

As a result of that drug test alone, Wal-Mart terminated her employment. She then filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart, alleging that it had violated the AMMA by discriminating against her for her use of medical marijuana. The plaintiff argued that Walmart’s admitted policy of firing regardless of whether the employee possesses a medical marijuana card and regardless of the level detected constituted a complete disregard for the AMMA’s anti-discrimination provisions.

Violating Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).

The court agreed with the plaintiff and ruled that, without having produced any evidence that the plaintiff “used, possessed or was impaired by marijuana,” Walmart had discriminated against her in violation of the AMMA. Furthermore, by suspending and then terminating her solely based on her positive drug screen and in the absence of expert testimony, the court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff on her AMMA discrimination claim.

It should be remembered, however, that in this case, Arizona has a provision in its medical marijuana law that prohibits discrimination against legitimate users. Every state may not have this. If your state does not have a similar provision in your state’s medical marijuana law, you should lobby for an amendment to include one.

To read the court’s order in this case, click here.

To read about a similar case of employment discrimination dealing with marijuana use, read one of my recent blogs here.

To read about marijuana workplace discrimination in other states such as Colorado, where recreational use is legal, click here to read one of our prior blogs on our Colorado Law Blog.

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:

Peabody, Daniel. “A New Ruling on the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act: Did Your Drug Testing Policy Just Go Up in Smoke?” JD Supra. (February 21, 2019). Web.

Mooreman, William; Samolis, Alicia. “Employer Liability For Medical Marijuana Bias Is Growing.” Law360. (March 22, 2019). 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.

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“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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Federal Court in Connecticut Rules Workers Can’t Be Denied Jobs for Medical Marijuana Use

George Indest Headshot

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On December 7, 2018, a federal judge in Connecticut ruled that a nursing home violated an anti-discrimination provision of the state’s medical marijuana law when it rescinded an employee’s job offer. It’s the latest in a series of similar clashes between federal and state laws around the country that came out in favor of medical marijuana users trying to keep or obtain jobs with drug-testing employers. The ruling provided clarification on medical marijuana use under the Connecticut Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA).
Advocates hope the new decisions are a sign of growing acceptance of marijuana’s medicinal value.

Background of the Case.

The plaintiff was a healthcare worker who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2012 after being in a car accident. She notified a potential employer that she qualified under PUMA for her use of medical marijuana to cope with the effects of the accident. However, when a drug test came back positive for marijuana, the nursing home rescinded her job offer anyway, citing federal law which indicates marijuana is still illegal.

The plaintiff sued alleging the nursing home violated PUMA’s anti-discrimination provision. This provision of the law allows qualified patients to use marijuana and prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions because of the individual’s qualifying status.

Court Grants Summary Judgment.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Meyer ruled the nursing home discriminated against her based solely on her medical marijuana use was in violation of state law. In doing so, the judge rejected the nursing home’s argument that the federal Drug Free Workplace Act (DFWA) required the nursing center to rescind the plaintiff’s job offer. The court also rejected the nursing home’s argument that the federal False Claims Act (FCA) bars the center from hiring the plaintiff because its employment of someone who uses medical marijuana in violation of federal law would amount to “defrauding of the federal government.” The court stated there is no federal law that bars the center from hiring the plaintiff on account of her medicinal marijuana use outside of work hours.
(We have seen these this type of creative argument made before by both plaintiffs and defendants in litigation arguing that certain actions constitute a violation of the False Claims Act when actually they do not; in this case, the judge failed to be suckered into agreeing with this argument.)

Significance of this Case.

This decision is significant for employers because it clarifies the relationship between federal and Connecticut state laws concerning marijuana use and provides guidelines for drug testing in the employment domain. It indicates that PUMA protects a qualifying patient’s medical marijuana use outside the realm of working hours. The case is now heading to a trial on whether the plaintiff should receive compensatory damages for lost wages from not getting the job.

In this case, there was a strong state law in favor of the employee which allowed the use of medical marijuana. The federal court gave deference to the state law.

Additionally, the decision will likely be used in arguments in similar cases across the county. As this area of the law continues to develop and change, employers should consider reviewing their own drug-related policies and adjust them as necessary.

To read about another case where an employee got fired for using marijuana outside of work, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

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:

“New rulings on medical marijuana use go against employers.” The Denver Channel. (December 5, 2018). Web.

Elser, Wilson. “New Ruling on Medical Marijuana in the Workplace Clarifies Connecticut’s PUMA Legislation.” The National Law Review. (December 7, 2018). 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: Health worker employment discrimination defense attorney, medical marijuana, medical cannabis, marijuana license lawyer, marijuana defense attorney, legal representation for medical marijuana law, medical marijuana law representation, marijuana defense lawyer, drug-free work place, Drug-Free Work Place Act, legal defense of nurses, health employment law defense attorney, representation for legalizing marijuana, medical marijuana license defense lawyer, legal representation for medical marijuana policy, nurse employment defense attorney, legal representation for workplace marijuana regulations, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, complex health care litigation attorney, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, nurse license complaint defense attorney, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana decriminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm, complex medical business litigation lawyer, professional license defense attorney, medical marijuana license defense 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 © 2019 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Colorado Jury Rules in Favor of Marijuana Grow Business in Federal RICO Lawsuit

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 14, 2018, a federal jury in Denver rejected claims involving the odor that was allegedly coming from a pot farm. This was a case that was being closely watched by the marijuana industry. The marijuana business had been sued for damages to neighboring property value under anti-racketeering laws.

Given the recent approval of medical marijuana in Florida, it seems likely that there would be “copy cat lawsuits” filed in Florida, as well. The only difference in Florida would be the long history of pig farm precedents that exist.

A Closely Watched Lawsuit.

This was an important suit for the marijuana industry because it was the first federal suit brought under federal anti-racketeering laws. If the lawsuit had been successful, it could have created a new blueprint for opponents of marijuana legalization to dismantle the industry through civil cases under RICO laws.

The couple who own and live on land adjacent to the grow facility said the facility damaged their property values because of noise and odor. Because it harmed their views, and because no one wants to live near illegal activity, they claimed damages of $1 million.

The grow facility argued during trial that it didn’t cause any odor; its odor-control system doesn’t vent outdoors.

After a short deliberation, the jury ruled in favor of the marijuana grow facility and found it was not responsible for any of the alleged damages. Attorneys that represent similar marijuana facilities said proving property damages in cases like these are very difficult and hope the outcome of this case will deter others from trying the same. Click here to read more on this case.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs.

It is unclear to me why the Plaintiffs in this case prosecuted the case under a RICO theory since such a cause of action is usually very difficult to prove. However, I am not aware of all the facts of the case. It seems to me that a simple suit for nuisance against the marijuana grow farm would have been easier to prove and obtain an injunction on.

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:

Foody, Kathleen. “Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” Health News Florida. (October 30, 2018). Web.

Ingold, John. “Jury finds in favor of Colorado marijuana grow in closely watched federal lawsuit.” The Colorado Sun. (November 18, 2018). 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: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, complex health care litigation attorney, federal medical litigation attorney, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana decriminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm, complex medical business litigation lawyer, professional license dfense attorney, medical marijuana license defense 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 © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Colorado Jury Rules in Favor of Marijuana Grow Business in Federal RICO Lawsuit

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On November 14, 2018, a federal jury in Denver rejected claims involving the odor that was allegedly coming from a pot farm. This was a case that was being closely watched by the marijuana industry. The marijuana business had been sued for damages to neighboring property value under anti-racketeering laws.

A Closely Watched Lawsuit.

This was an important suit for the marijuana industry because it was the first federal suit brought under federal anti-racketeering laws. If the lawsuit had been successful, it could have created a new blueprint for opponents of marijuana legalization to dismantle the industry through civil cases under RICO laws.

The couple who own and live on land adjacent to the grow facility said the facility damaged their property values because of noise and odor. Because it harmed their views, and because no one wants to live near illegal activity, they claimed damages of $1 million.

The grow facility argued during trial that it didn’t cause any odor; its odor-control system doesn’t vent outdoors.

After a short deliberation, the jury ruled in favor of the marijuana grow facility and found it was not responsible for any of the alleged damages. Attorneys that represent similar marijuana facilities said proving property damages in cases like these are very difficult and hope the outcome of this case will deter others from trying the same. Click here to read more on this case.

Click here to read one of my prior blogs on this case.

It is unclear to me why the Plaintiffs in this case prosecuted the case under a RICO theory since such a cause of action is usually very difficult to prove. However, I am not aware of all the facts of the case. It seems to me that a simple suit for nuisance against the marijuana grow farm would have been easier to prove and obtain an injunction on.

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:

Foody, Kathleen. “Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” Health News Florida. (October 30, 2018). Web.

Ingold, John. “Jury finds in favor of Colorado marijuana grow in closely watched federal lawsuit.” The Colorado Sun. (November 18, 2018). 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: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, complex health care litigation attorney, federal medical litigation attorney, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana decriminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, The Health Law Firm, complex medical business litigation lawyer, professional license dfense attorney, medical marijuana license defense 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 © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Colorado Federal Lawsuit Could Have Far Reaching Effects on US Marijuana Industry

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On October 30, 2018, a federal trial in Colorado could have far-reaching effects on the United States’ marijuana industry if a jury sides with a couple who say having a cannabis business as a neighbor hurts their property’s value. The Denver trial is the first time a jury will consider a lawsuit using federal anti-racketeering law to target cannabis companies.

The Suit.

The couple bought the Colorado land for its views of Pikes Peak and built a house on the rural property. But, they claim “pungent, foul odors” from a neighboring indoor marijuana grow operation have hurt the property’s value and their ability to use and enjoy it.

Vulnerability to similar lawsuits is among the many risks facing marijuana businesses licensed by states but still violating federal law. Suits using the same strategy have been filed in California, Massachusetts and Oregon.

Why This Suit is A Big Deal.

Congress created the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) allowing prosecutors to argue leaders of a criminal enterprise should pay a price along with lower-level defendants. The anti-racketeering law also allows private parties to file lawsuits claiming their business or property has been damaged by a criminal enterprise. Those who prove it can be financially compensated for damages times three, plus attorneys’ expenses.

In 2015, those who opposed the marijuana industry decided to use this strategy against marijuana companies along with investors, insurers, state regulators and other players. A Denver-based federal appeals court ruled in 2017 that the couple could use anti-racketeering law to sue the licensed cannabis grower neighboring their property. Insurance companies and other entities originally named in the couples’ suit have gradually been removed, some after reaching financial settlements out of court.

The question now is whether the jurors will accept the argument and agree to the amount of $1 million.

Be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly and stay on top of the latest news.

To read another blog I wrote on a medical marijuana case in Colorado, click here.

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:

Foody, Kathleen. “Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” Health News Florida. (October 30, 2018). Web.

“Colorado Lawsuit Could Ripple Through US Cannabis Industry.” The Associated Press. (October 30, 2018). 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: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, 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 © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Failed Medical Marijuana Applicant’s Appeal Goes Up in Smoke Thanks to Pennsylvania Court

Attorney George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On April 20, 2018, a Pennsylvania court agreed that a company that lost out on a potentially profitable cannabis dispensary permit needed to exhaust administrative remedies before it could file suit. The suit would challenge the constitutionality of the application process for the state’s new medical marijuana program.

A court panel rejected arguments from Keystone ReLeaf LLC (Keystone), which has asked that all medical marijuana permits issued by the state’s Department of Health (DOH) be revoked. Keystone claims that the administrative appeals process did not offer an adequate remedy for the denial of its application.

Keystone’s lawsuit accused the DOH, along with its new Office of Medical Marijuana, of engaging in an inequitable and unconstitutional permitting process. Additionally, Keystone claims the DOH failed to explain how it scored the applications.

The company was one of 450 to submit applications to the DOH as the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act took effect under a set of temporary regulations in 2017. There were 12 growing and processing permits and 27 dispensary permits issued through the initial application process.

In response, the DOH filed preliminary objections to the lawsuit seeking dismissal based on Keystone’s failure to complete the appeals process.

The court stated that challenges to the constitutionality of permitting programs typically did not require the exhaustion of administrative remedies. However, Keystone’s lawsuit dealt with how the department was applying the act and regulations governing its implementation. Additionally, where Keystone claimed it did not have an adequate administrative remedy available, the court determined the process needed to be completed before any court could make such a judgment.

To read the court’s opinion on this case, click here.

To stay on top of medical marijuana policy, click here to read one of my prior blogs and check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for 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:

Fair, Matt. “Pa. Court Won’t Derail State’s Medical Marijuana Program.” Law360. (April 20, 2018). Web.

Miller, Matt. “Jilted medical marijuana permit applicant’s ‘premature’ appeal to Pa. court goes up in smoke.” PennLive. (April 21, 2018). 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: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, 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 © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Denver Coffee Shop May Become First Business to Allow Social Marijuana Use

5571 darken lighten center w skin softBy Carole C. Schriefer, R.N., J.D.

On December 12, 2017, the first application to allow social marijuana use in a business has landed in Denver, Colorado. This first application seeks to allow the social use of marijuana vaping and use of edibles southwest of downtown. Denver is the first in the U.S. to allow public consumption at businesses and at permitted events. You won’t have to fly all the way to Amsterdam any longer to partake of the weed.

The Coffee Joint.

The first that have applied to take advantage of this are two Denver entrepreneurs who plan to open a coffee shop called “The Coffee Joint.” The owners have connections to a marijuana dispensary next door. Despite the name, the coffee shop does not plan to allow the smoking of marijuana, only vaping and the consumption of edibles for patrons over the age of 21.

The business also plans to offer vaping equipment for purchase and states that it hopes to offer educational programs about the medicinal benefits of marijuana.

To stay on top of the latest in marijuana laws and policies, check out our Marijuana Law Blog regularly.

To read further on the impact of the marijuana industry in Colorado, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational 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:

Murray, Jon. “Pot in coffee shop, but sans smoke.” The Denver Post. (December 12, 2017). Print.

Ackerman, Mark. “Denver Coffee Shop Aims To Be First Business To Allow Social Pot Use.” Denver CBS Local. (December 11, 2017). Web.

About the Author: Carole C. Schriefer is an attorney and registered nurse. She practices with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its regional office is in the Northern Colorado, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 155 East Boardwalk Drive, Fort Collins, Colorado 80525. Phone: (970) 416-7456. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area.

KeyWords: Growing marijuana industry in Colorado, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, 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.

Jeff Sessions Threatens Legalized Marijuana by Reversing Obama-Era Policy

3-indest-2009-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On January 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama-era policy of refraining from prosecuting marijuana businesses and individual users in states that have legalized the drug for medicinal or recreational use. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced this, calling the move a “return to the rule of law.”

Marijuana Criminalization.

Jeff Sessions announced the decision in a memo sent to all U.S. attorneys that highlighted marijuana’s continued criminalization under federal law. In the memo, he labeled previous DOJ guidance discouraging enforcement as “unnecessary” and “rescinded, effective immediately.”

“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” Sessions said in a statement.

This move creates a cloud of uncertainty for legal marijuana businesses and the legalization effort which most recently had seen the start of legal recreational marijuana sales in California on January 1, 2018. Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana in some form.

However, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under federal law, making it a criminal offense to deal or even possess it. You can read Jeff Session’s memo in full, here.

To read a recent blog I wrote on the legalization of marijuana, click here.

For updates on recreational and medical marijuana, regularly check our Marijuana Law Blog.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational 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:

Hill, Jon. “Sessions Reverses Obama-Era Marijuana Enforcement Policy.” Law360. (January 8, 2018). Web.

Zapotosky, Zach. “Use of legalized marijuana threatened as Sessions rescinds Obama-era directive that eased federal enforcement.” The Washington Post. (January 5, 2018). 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: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, 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 © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida’s First Green Bank Cuts Business Ties with Medical Marijuana Money

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

When Florida’s medical marijuana industry was first starting to grow, business owners faced a big dilemma: Where could they find a bank to take their millions of dollars? The federal government still considers marijuana an illegal substance without medicinal value, so most banks haven’t been willing to take the industry’s money. Because of federal regulations, the businesses also cannot accept credit cards for payment, as well, making it difficult for patient to obtain medical marijuana by mail.

Despite this, First Green Bank, a Central Florida community bank that doesn’t require a federal charter, came to the rescue. By the summer of 2017, it was handling accounts for six of the state’s seven licensed producers of medical marijuana.

But now, First Green announced that it is closing the accounts of its cannabis clients and won’t be handling their money after January, 2018, due to the federal government’s stance.

Green Light Ends for Marijuana Money.

First Green claims to have found a new institution willing to take its place. It says it is confident that Florida’s 40,000 card-carrying medical marijuana patients won’t notice any hiccups. “There will be no interruption or change in operations as far as patients and members are concerned,” Jake Bergmann, CEO of Surterra Holdings, a medicinal marijuana operator and a First Green client, is reported to have stated.

In Florida, only 13 companies are licensed to grow marijuana and only seven can actually sell it. Therefore, the importance of having a financial partner becomes even more pronounced given the amount of money each company is working with.

Read First Green Bank’s press release on why it made this decision to learn more.

Florida is not the only state having difficulty finding banks for the marijuana industry. In Colorado, marijuana distributors also struggle to operate without access to traditional banking systems. You can learn more about this issue by reading my prior blog on Cannabis Credit Unions.

For updates on marijuana laws and regulations, be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational 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:

Smiley, David. “The banker to Florida’s medical marijuana players is getting out of the business.” The Miami Herald. (December 22, 2017). Web.

“Florida’s pot banker is closing accounts.” The Denver Post. (December 28, 2017). 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: Growing marijuana industry, marijuana defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, legal representation for marijuana criminalization, legal representation for marijuana regulations, legal representation for U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations, DOJ investigation attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, 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 © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Federal Judge Dismisses Former NFL Player’s Marijuana Decriminalization Suit

3-indest-2009-2By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On February 26, 2018, a New York federal judge dismissed a former NFL star’s suit demanding decriminalization of medical marijuana. U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said the Second Circuit has already determined that Congress had a rational basis to classify marijuana as a Schedule I drug.

Schedule I drugs are those drugs that allegedly have no known currently accepted medicinal use and have a high potential for abuse. Marijuana is right up there with LSD and heroin (15,466 heroin overdose deaths in 2016).

The Fight to Decriminalize Marijuana.

The suit brought by Super Bowl winner and now weed entrepreneur Marvin Washington and others, seeks to challenge aspects of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) through the court when remedies are available through federal agencies, like the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Along with Washington, the action was brought on behalf of two young children, an American military veteran and the Cannabis Cultural Association organization, all of whom have suffered harm and are continuously threatened, by reason of the provisions of the CSA.

Washington, a former Jets football player, is hoping to force the hand of Congress and the White House by arguing that current federal policy is unconstitutional given marijuana’s health benefits. The complaint filed in September of 2017, argued the 1970 federal law classifying marijuana as a dangerous drug violates patients’ rights.
Click here to read the complaint in full.

At a hearing in early February 2018, Judge Hellerstein did acknowledge that marijuana’s health benefits are beyond question, but also warned Washington and the advocates that the district court was not an appropriate forum for the suit.

In his new ruling, he dismissed the suit because the Second Circuit found, in its 1973 United States v. Kiffer decision, that the Controlled Substances Act is constitutional.

Additional Ammo.

Judge Hellerstein said it’s clear that Congress had a rational basis for classifying marijuana in Schedule I, and executive officials in different administrations have consistently retained its placement there. In an example, he said the DEA’s most recent denial of a petition to reclassify marijuana listed a number of public health and safety justifications for keeping marijuana in Schedule I.

To read the judge’s order in full, click here.

To learn more about the status of marijuana, click here to read one of my prior blogs and be sure to check our Marijuana Law Blog regularly for updates.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical and Recreational 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.

The Hypocrisy of Marijuana Prohibition Must End.

One must ask when people who are supposed to be rationale are going to demand an end to this marijuana abuse hypocrisy. One day our children we will look back on this century of prohibition and scratch our heads and ask “Why?” just as we currently do for the alcohol prohibition of the 1920′ and 1930s. All it would take is an administrative agency decision to move marijuana form a Schedule 1 to a different schedule and all the current criminal law problems would go away.

Does marijuana have an accepted medical use? There are many cancer victims who think so. There are many doctors who are writing orders for medical marijuana in states where it is legal who think so. It is known to be a relaxant, to depress pain, to encourage sleep and to stimulate appetite (or so I am told).

As far as it having a high potential for abuse, is it as high as cigarettes? As high as sodas containing caffeine and sugar? As high as chewing gum?

And how many deaths each year are attributable to marijuana overdoses? In 2015 there were zero. Probably more people choked on chewing gum overdoses. Compare this to legal, prescription opiods and other similar drugs–over 19,000 deaths in 2015. Legal alcohol, available without a prescription–over 30,000 in 2015. [I apologize because I do not have more rent statistics.] And yet marijuana is somehow seen as a villain? If anything, cigarettes and tobacco products should be placed on Schedule 1. Again, one day our children will look back and, as many countries have done already, say “what a crock of s**t that was.”

Sources:

Simpson, Dave. “Ex-Jets Player Loses Pot Decriminalization Suit.” Law360. (February 27, 2018). Web.

Brush, Pete. “Ex-NFLer’s Pot Decriminalization Suit Hits Possible Snag.” Law360. (February 27, 2018). Web.

Bellware, Kim. “Here’s How Many People Fatally Overdosed On Marijuana Last Year.” (12/28/15)
www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/marijuana-deaths-2014_us_56816417e4b06fa68880a217

Welch, Ashley. “Drug Overdoses Killed More Americans Last Year than the Viet Nam War.” (Oct. 17, 2017)
www.cbsnews.com/news/opioids-drug-overdose-killed-more-americans-last-year-than-the-vietnam-war/

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 defense attorney, medical marijuana defense attorney, lawyer for medical marijuana growers and distributors, health lawyers for marijuana distributors, legal counsel for marijuana growers and distributors, medical marijuana laws, marijuana laws, medical marijuana legalization, recreational marijuana laws and regulations, legal representation for recreational marijuana in a business, legal counsel for marijuana law, marijuana law attorney, Controlled Substances Act (CSA) , U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigation representation, legal representation for DEA matters, DEA investigation defense attorney, reviews of The Health Law Firm, The Health Law Firm attorney reviews, 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 © 2018 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

 

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