Maryland & Missouri Become 20th and 21st States to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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

Five states had proposals to legalize recreational marijuana on the ballot in the midterm elections held on November 8, 2022. Voters in Maryland and Missouri approved the legalization, while Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota rejected similar proposals. As a result of the vote, Maryland and Missouri became the 20th and 21st states to legalize cannabis for adult recreational use.

Maryland.

Maryland’s voters overwhelmingly approved Question 4 as it passed, with 65% of voters casting ballots in favor. The amendment creates a right to possess and use marijuana and directs the state Legislature to enact laws governing its sale. Following its passage, adults in the state will be allowed to possess up to 1.5 ounces, or two marijuana plants, beginning July 1, 2023.

Additionally, it allows […]

Study Reveals 1 in 5 Medicare Recipients Use Medical Marijuana, 66% Agree It Should Be Covered

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

A new study has revealed that one in five Medicare recipients use medical marijuana and two-thirds think Medicare should cover it. MedicarePlans.com, a group examining various Medicare issues, commissioned the online poll of 1,250 Medicare recipients in April 2022.

Two-thirds of those polled said they “strongly agree” or “agree” that medical marijuana should be covered by Medicare. Thirty-four percent said they “disagree” or “strongly disagree.”

More Details About Responses.

In the poll, 23% admitted to using medical pot in the past, and 21% said they currently use it to treat one or more medical conditions. Additionally, current use for health reasons was highest among respondents who used marijuana recreationally (39%). 28% of recreational users said they previously used medical marijuana.

The study revealed that respondents use it to treat various […]

From the archives: Mississippi Becomes 37th State to Legalize Medical Marijuana

Previously published on March 24, 2022
Attorney and Author HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On February 2, 2022, the Gov. of Mississippi signed the “Mississippi Medical Cannabis Act” legalizing medical marijuana in the state. The law permits the use of medical cannabis to treat certain debilitating medical conditions, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, ALS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, sickle-cell anemia, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, cachexia or wasting syndrome, chronic pain, severe or intractable nausea, seizures, intense muscle spasms, among others.

Although the law became effective immediately upon signing by the Governor, medical cannabis will not become available for months.

Specifics of Mississippi SB 2095.

Under the new Mississippi law, medical pot products will include cannabis flower, cannabis extracts, edible cannabis products, beverages, topical products, ointments, oils, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Jeff Sessions Threatens Legalized Marijuana by Reversing Obama-Era Policy

George Indest HeadshotBy 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 […]

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 […]

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