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

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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ruled that a nursing home violated an anti-discrimination provision of the state’s medical marijuana law when it rescinded an employee’s job offer.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 However, when a drug test came back positive for marijuana, the nursing home rescinded her job offer anyway, citing federal law which indicates marijuana is still illegal.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.

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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.

Cancer Patients Must Provide DOH Approval for Seizures and Muscle Spasms, or May Be Unqualified for Low-THC Medical Marijuana

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

Barnhart v. Dep’t of Health, Div. Admin. Hearings, Case No. 15-1271RP (Final Order April 10, 2015).

Following is a summary of a recent Division of Administrative Hearings case summary, taken from The Florida Bar Administrative Law Section Newsletter, Vol. 36, No. 4 (June 2015).

FACTS: On February 6, 2015, the Department of Health (“DOH”) published a notice of proposed rule-making setting forth the text of six proposed rules to implement the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 (“the Act”). The Act provides in part that certain physicians treating patients suffering from cancer or a condition that chronically produces seizures or severe muscle spasms may order low-THC cannabis for those patients’ treatment.

The Petitioner filed a Petition asserting that one of the proposed rules (64-4.002) is an invalid exercise of delegated legislative authority.  In support thereof, the Petitioner alleged that she is a four-year-old Florida resident diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and she treats her condition with medical cannabis extracts. The Petitioner further alleged that she plans to register with the Office of Compassionate Use Registry to become a “qualified patient” for the medical use of low THC cannabis.

The Petition also contained allegations regarding the harm that would result without an adopted rule. For instance, the Petition alleged there is a “desperate need for access to low THC cannabis” and that expedited rule promulgation was necessary because the “selected applicants will be responsible for ensuring access to ordered medication, with greater risk of public injury if there is no access to medicine.” The Petition also asserted that potential applicants eligible to become dispensing organizations would be harmed by the proposed rule’s “overly burdensome” application, scoring, and selection process.

OUTCOME: After affording Petitioner leave to file an amended Petition, the ALJ dismissed the Petition due to a lack of standing when Petitioner chose not to file an amended Petition.

The ALJ concluded the Petitioner’s allegations failed to demonstrate that she could become a “qualified patient” and thus potentially eligible for a physician’s order to receive low-THC cannabis.

The ALJ noted that while the Petitioner alleges that she has an inoperable brain tumor, she does not allege that her “condition falls within the narrow parameters of the Act, that is, that Petitioner has cancer or that Petitioner’s medical condition chronically causes seizures or muscle spasms.” Moreover, even if Petitioner had sufficiently alleged that she could be a “qualified patient,” the allegations were insufficient to show that Petitioner would suffer a real or sufficiently immediate injury in fact resulting from application of the proposed rule.

However, the ALJ rejected DOH’s argument that a “qualified patient” could never have standing to challenge proposed rule 64-4.002. While noting that the proposed rule only addresses the application requirements, scoring, and selection process for dispensing organizations, the ALJ concluded that qualified patient status, “when adequately alleged, might, hypothetically, be sufficient as part of the predicate for standing to challenge rules implementing the Act.”

Editor’s Notes on Case Summary:

This case demonstrates a common situation for many Florida residents who suffer from conditions like cancer: denial of medical marijuana. The Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014 states that in order to qualify for the cannabis, the patient must produce symptoms of seizure and persistent muscle spasms. If the patient is younger than 18 years of age, a second physician must concur the initial physician’s determination. In this case, 4-year-old Dahlia Barnhart, who suffers from a brain tumor, failed to demonstrate that her condition produces seizures and spasms, and therefore was denied low-THC. In court documents, you must allege that you are eligible for the physician’s order.

Comments?

Do you think that 4-year-old Dahlia Barnhart qualifies for medical marijuana? Do you have a chronic condition that was denied medical marijuana? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

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.

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: license, defense attorney, health law, health care attorney, health care lawyer, health investigation, medical license, Department of Health, DOH, health attorney, medical marijuana lawyer, medical cannabis, cannabis, marijuana, Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, THC, medical THC, health conditions, cancer, cancer patients, brain tumor, petitions, Florida, Office of Compassionate Use, ALJ, administrative law judge, physicians, Florida marijuana, administrative hearing, petition for rule challenge

“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.

New Medical-Marijuana Amendment to be Reviewed for Inclusion on Ballot

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

A new medical-marijuana amendment will be reviewed by the Department of State. The second push in Florida has more than 100,000 signatures in favor to date. The petitions were given to the state on Wednesday by an organization called United for Care.

This Year’s Version Addresses Loopholes.

Critics have said legal marijuana would result in dispensaries on street corners, minors obtaining joints and giving drug dealers a legal supply. This year’s version of the amendment will address all of these issues. It will allow the state to ban felons who are working as care-givers from purchasing for qualified patients.

The New Version Gives New Definition for ‘Qualified Patient.’

Additionally, the amendment tightens the definition of “qualified patient.” A patient must have one of a list of serious diseases like cancer and HIV/AIDS or a disease of “the same kind or class.” Last year, the version allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana for any condition they believed the benefits outweighed the risk.

The Department of State Must Review in 30 Days.

The Department of State has 30 days to review the 100,000 signatures. It does this in order to make sure at least 68,317 of the signatures are valid. Then, the state Supreme Court will determine if the proposal is constitutional and focuses on one subject. Ben Pollara, campaign manager at United for Care, says they expect to have the review date by mid-August.

To read a past blog on the 2015 policy, click here.

Comments?

Did you sign the petition? Do you agree with the stricter policies? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

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 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Source:

Sweeney, Dan. “New medical-post amendment advances.” Orlando Sentinel. (July 23, 2015). 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: United for Care, defense attorney, health law, health care attorney, health care lawyer, health investigation, medical license, Department of State, health attorney, medical marijuana lawyer, medical cannabis, cannabis, marijuana, THC, medical THC, health conditions, cancer, cancer patients, medical marijuana petitions, petitions, Florida, Florida marijuana, petition for rule challenge

“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.

Group Pushing For New Marijuana Legalization Amendment in Florida

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

There is a new effort to legalize the use of marijuana in Florida and not just for medical purposes. Petitions will soon hit the streets for a proposed constitutional amendment that would completely legalize use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by Florida adults.

Getting the Measure on the November 2016 Ballot.

The Florida Cannabis Action Network, along with a committee called Floridians For Freedom, stated that it had received state approval to begin seeking signatures which would get their measure on the November 2016 ballot. This measure is distinct from a previous amendment led by Orlando Lawyer John Morgan, who wanted to legalize marijuana for medical purposes only.

Floridians For Freedom will have to gather about 67,000 valid signatures to get the effort to the next phase which is Florida Supreme Court review. Then the group will have to gather an additional 600,000 valid signatures to get it qualified for the ballot next fall. To visit their website, click here.

“Ending Prohibition” of Marijuana Under State Law.

According to Jodi James, chair of Floridians For Freedom and executive director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, all the commercial aspects of marijuana would be controlled by rules and regulations set by the Florida Legislature and Department of Commerce. “We want it to be legal. We want it to be regulated. We want it controlled. We want people to have safe access,” James said.

The Florida Cannabis Action Network currently has 20,000 members that it will call on to help collect valid signatures. To read one of our previous blogs on marijuana policy, click here.

Comments?

What are your thoughts on making marijuana completely legalized? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

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.

Source:

Powers, Scott. “Group to push amendment that would completely legalize marijuana.” Orlando Sentinel. (September 2, 2015). 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: Legalize marijuana, Florida medical marijuana, medical cannabis, medical marijuana, medical marijuana lawyer, medical marijuana license, defense attorney, defense lawyer, health lawyer, marijuana, recreational cannabis, recreational marijuana, marijuana cultivation, Floridians For Freedom, Florida, Cannabis Action Network, commercial use of marijuana, Florida Legislature, Department of Commerce, 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.

Shortage of Florida Physicians Approved to Recommend “Green Leaf Relief” for Patients

7 Indest-2008-4By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Florida may be “going green” in a big way come November 2016; and I’m not talking about recycling.  The Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, or Ballot Initiative Amendment 2, has undergone revisions, and will likely be making its second run with voters since its marginal loss in 2014.  Promoters of the Constitutional Amendment predict success; hopefully this isn’t just a pipe dream.

However, the Florida Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, currently allows low-THC cannabis to be utilized only by qualifying patients for certain medical ailments.  A licensed physician, as outlined in Chapter 458 or 459 of Florida Statutes, is required to qualify patients for the use of medical marijuana.

For FAQ’s on low-THC cannabis issued by the Florida Department of Health (DOH), click here.

Physician Requirements for Qualifying Patients and Ordering.

For a patient to qualify to obtain and use THC, a previously approved physician must examine and currently be treating a patient for a debilitating illness.  Such illnesses include cancer or any physical medical condition or ailment that produces chronic seizures or severe and persistent muscle spasms (such as epilepsy or multiple sclerosis).  Furthermore, the physician must have tried all other options of treatment without satisfactory results.  Medical marijuana must be a last resort alternative.  Section 381.986(2), Florida Statutes (2015).

One of the physician ordering requirements is that the doctor must “register as the orderer of low-THC cannabis for the named patient on the compassionate use registry maintained by the department [of health] and update the registry to reflect the contents of the order.”  Section 381.986(2)(c), Florida Statutes (2015).

In order to become registered in Florida, licensed physicians must successfully complete an 8-hour course, offered by either the Florida Medical Association (FMA) or the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association (FOMA).  It is necessary for the physician to satisfactorily pass an examination upon completion of the course.  Section 381.986(4), Florida Statutes (2015).

Currently, only 42 doctors varied throughout Florida in areas to include Orlando, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, have signed up for authorization.

Why the Lack of Physicians?

Several theories may account for the lack of physician involvement in the program in Florida.

One of the theories that may explain why physicians are hesitant to jump on board with this new-age line of treatment, is the lack of scientific research conducted in the United States to back the medical efficacy of medical marijuana.  Scientists are reluctant to answer even the most basic questions about the use of medical marijuana including the long-term risks, actual benefits and the overall effect of legalization.

Many physicians may be concerned that the use of medical marijuana is supported more by popular opinion than on actual medical research.

However, a primary reason for insignificant research may be due to the unavailability of the drug for scientific study due to its illegal status.  The federal government entirely restricts the authorization to use marijuana for medical research.  The media is replete with stories on this.  As the debate over marijuana and its legalization for medical use becomes more widespread and pertinent, the drug has concurrently become more available for research.

For more information on current medical marijuana research efforts as reported by U.S.A. Today, click here.

Who Will Dispense the Marijuana?

Another hold-up in support from physicians may be due to the fact that the Department of Health (DOH) is still in the process of selecting the five dispensing organizations throughout Florida that will be developing and dispensing the drug.

As originally proposed, this requires an arduous application process presently consisting of proposals from 24 competing companies.  A dispensing organization must have the ability to meet several requirements as set forth in the statues, including the financial ability to post a $5 million performance bond upon approval.  Section 381.986(5)(b), Florida Statutes (2015).

Many physicians are still waiting to know where the drugs will be dispensed, what the dosages will be, what forms they will be available in and how much they will cost.  These are all important factors to consider in determining whether or not medical marijuana may be beneficial to certain patients.

Penalties for Misuse.

A final reason for physician avoidance of marijuana is fear of criminal prosecution and discipline by their boards, given the lingering gray areas of the law.

To read one of our previous blogs regarding a federal judge’s challenge of the DOJ’s incorrect interpretation of federal law on medical marijuana prosecutions and a win for medical marijuana advocates across the nation, click here.

It is undisputed that the use of medical marijuana is on the rise.  Therefore, any licensed physician who is contemplating or has already signed up for the program, needs to be sure they are in strict compliance with Florida law.

A physician is committing a misdemeanor, which may result in criminal penalties, if he or she orders low-THC cannabis for a patient without possessing a reasonable belief that the patient is suffering from one of the debilitating medical conditions as described in Section 381.986(3)(a)(1) and (2), Florida Statutes.

It is one of the ongoing duties of the dispensing organizations established by the Department to “monitor physician registration and ordering of low-THC cannabis for ordering practices that could facilitate unlawful diversion or misuse of low-THC cannabis and take disciplinary action as indicated.”  Section 381.986(5)(b)(7)(c), Florida Statutes (2015).

Therefore, a physician interested in obtaining authorization to order medical marijuana for his or her patients, should contact an experienced health attorney as a safeguard to ensure he or she complies fully with the law.

Comments?

Why do you believe there is a lack of physician involvement in Florida in the medical marijuana program?  What are your thoughts on the availability of medical marijuana in Florida?

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 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

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.

Sources:

Powers, Scott.  “Medical-pot backers unfazed only 42 doctors in program.”  Orlando Sentinel 20 August 2015: Final.  Print.

Caputo, Mark.  “Medical marijuana supporters unveil new proposal for 2016.”  Miami Herald.  8 January 2015.  Web.  27 August 2015.

Keywords: medical marijuana lawyer, marijuana attorney, low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis, complaint against physician, Florida law, health attorney, doctor defense attorney Department of Health, Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, disciplinary action for prescribing, medical marijuana regulations, prescribing controlled substances, physicians recommending marijuana, health regulation lawyer, medical license defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, health law attorney, DEA defense lawyer, medical marijuana ordering physician, compassionate-use in Florida, physician certifications for medical marijuana, cannabis for treatment of debilitating medical condition

“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.

Florida Gets a Green Light on First Five Growers as Medical Marijuana Program Expands: Five Pot Growers Hit Jackpot

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

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) awarded the state’s first licenses to five nurseries, allowing them to legally grow and cultivate marijuana for medical purposes. The nurseries selected are Costa Nursery Farms in Miami, Alpha Foliage of Homestead, Knox Nursery of Winter Garden, Hackney Nursery Company in Tallahassee and Chestnut Hill Tree Farm of Alachua.

Compassionate Use in Florida.

With these licenses, the five nurseries are permitted to grow Charlotte’s Web, a liquid form of cannabis low in THC, the chemical that gives a euphoric feeling. It is intended to treat patients with epilepsy and advanced stages of cancer. For patients to qualify for the treatment, they must obtain permission from a qualified doctor and be added to the Compassionate Use Registry. Compassionate use is the experimental use of a medical product that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To read more about compassionate use and the registry from The DOH, click here.


Applicant Rules and Guidelines.

The five nurseries were selected out of a pool of 28 applicants with businesses in Florida for at least 30 years that grow a minimum of 400,000 plants. Each of the growers now have 10 business days to post a $5 million performance bond to prove they are serious about the license. Several nurseries that were selected have partnered with consultants, investors, security firms and out of state marijuana growers to help develop plans and secure the performance bond.

Expanding the Medical Marijuana Program.

Medical Marijuana is well on its way to Florida and these first five growers are just the beginning. A Florida House Panel recently approved House Bill 307, to expand the small medical marijuana program. Under this Bill, terminally ill patients can purchase marijuana from a licensed grower with approval from two doctors. Not only did the House Justice Subcommittee approve House Bill 307 by a 9-4 vote, they tacked on new language to increase the number of growers to 20. The bill passed its first hurdle and moves next to the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee. To find out more details on House Bill 307, click here.

To read further on Medical Marijuana legislation in Florida, read one of our past blogs here.

Serious Questions Regarding Monopolistic Actions.

I have some very serious questions as to whether or not the state is unfairly limiting the number of medical marijuana growers. Surely there is a need for more than five of them. This has got to be perceived as capricious and arbitrary by any court reviewing it.

If the proposed Florida constitutional amendment passes during the next election, as many predict it will, then such an artificial limitation on the number of growers may well be determined to violate the intent of the amendment. With all of the scrutiny being focused on state medical agencies by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) for anti-competitive practices, the artificially low number of permitted growers is found to invite future litigation from pateints and from competing growers who were shut out of the market.

Comments?

What are your thoughts on the availability of medical marijuana in Florida? Do you agree with the expansion of the medical marijuana program? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

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 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

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.

Sources:

Auslen, Michael. “Florida medical marijuana plan expanded to 20 growers.” Bradenton Herald. 17 Nov. 2015. Web.

Klas, Mary Ellen. “Florida approves 5 nurseriers to grow medical marijuana.” Miami Herald. 24 Nov. 2015. Web.

Powers, Scott. “5 growers get state’s 1st pot license.” Orlando Sentinel. 24 Nov. 2015. Print.

KeyWords: Florida medical marijuana, medical marijuana growers, medical marijuana cultivation, medical marijuana license, Charlotte’s Web, House Bill 307, medical marijuana lawyer, marijuana attorney, low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis, Department of Health (DOH), Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, medical marijuana regulations, medical license defense attorney, The Health Law Firm, health law attorney, cannabis for treatment of debilitating medical condition

“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.

“Eight Big Things to Watch” for Marijuana Policy in 2015-From Brookings Institution

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Health Law

Marijuana policy has increasing developed through the years. Today, twenty-three states have legalized medical marijuana and four states have approved recreational marijuana, including DC. Below is a summary of The Brookings Institution article “Marijuana Policy in 2015: Eight Big Things to Watch.” During 2015, the country and foreign nations will see big changes involving marijuana policies.


1. New States are Planning and Preparing for Legal Marijuana

In November 2014, recreational marijuana was legalized in Oregon and Alaska. During 2015, state legislatures in their respective state and alcohol regulatory bodies will work side by side to design regulations governing legal marijuana. It is important to watch what these states decide because it may determine whether the states marijuana policy will succeed or fail.

Oregon is making history by becoming the first state to border another who has already legalized marijuana. The border between Oregon and Washington will bring insight into what extent states will go for marijuana market advantages regarding bordering states.


2. Which States will be the next to Legalize Marijuana?

This year will show which states are taking steps to initiate ballots in 2016 to legalize marijuana. California and Florida are two of the states expected to advance an initiative, and other states are likely to follow their lead. Ballot initiatives are expensive, thus, to determine who is pushing follow the money.


3. State Legislatures and Marijuana

During the legalization of recreational or medical marijuana the difficult part of the process is getting it past the state legislature. Throughout 2015 it is important to determine which state legislatures have proposals involving marijuana policy and to keep track of their progress during legislative sessions. Some states, like Tennessee, may propose relaxing bans on hemp production, while others may seek to reaffirm legal bans on marijuana.


4. Marijuana in the Courts

During 2015, numerous high-profile lawsuits centered around marijuana policy are likely to be settled. The most recent decision is Coats v. Dish Network, a Colorado case in which a licensed medical marijuana user was let go after testing positive for the substance during a drug test at Dish Network. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled against Mr. Coats. The court held that employees who engage in medical marijuana use that is allowed by state law but unlawful under federal law are not protected by Colorado’s “lawful activities statute.” To read a past blog we published on the case Coats v. Dish Network, click here. To view Coats v. Dish Network in its entirety, click here.

Another case to look out for is Nebraska and Oklahoma v. Colorado, in which the states claim that Colorado’s legalization of marijuana is violating federal law and causing problems in bordering states. The Supreme Court’s decision on the case will clarify the federal courts’ willingness to engage in this area of policy.


5. Clarifying DC’s Marijuana Policy

The future of Washington, DC’s marijuana policy will be determined by the federal courts. The court will need to clarify the policy’s future if there is congressional inaction on Initiative 71.


6. Continuation of Marijuana Policies in Colorado, Washington and Uruguay

Both Washington and Colorado are continuing to work on their recreational marijuana policies. Colorado is working through the issues of edibles, product testing, and home-grows. An important issue to watch is the challenge Washington faces in luring consumers away from the black market cost effectively. Overseas, Uruguay will continue to steadily work on a bureaucracy and consumer base for legal marijuana.


7. Current Marijuana Data is Imperfect and Incomplete

It is too early to make conclusive claims about recreational marijuana since there is not enough data. During 2015, and subsequent years, steady flows of data from Colorado and Washington will surface. This data will provide a better idea about the impact of legal recreational marijuana on society.


8. Marijuana as a Topic During the Presidential Campaign

Marijuana will definitely be a topic during the 2015 presidential campaign. Unlike most political issues, marijuana policy is not determined by political party. Thus, it will be interesting to hear the presidential candidates opinions during 2015 since it will be a big part of the campaign.


Comments:

What are your thoughts on the eight big things to watch in 2015? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


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.


Source:

Hudak, John. “Marijuana Policy in 2015: Eight Big Things to Watch.” Brookings Institute. (January 8, 2015). From:
http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2015/01/08-marijuana-policy-2015-things-to-watch-hudak


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:
Florida medical marijuana, medical cannabis, medical marijuana, medical marijuana lawyer, medical marijuana license, defense attorney, defense lawyer, Charlotte’s Web, health lawyer, marijuana, recreational cannabis, recreational marijuana, 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.

 

Workers Can Be Fired For Using Marijuana Off-Duty

IMG_5571 darken lighten center and skin sofBy Carole C. Schriefer, R.N., J.D., The Health Law Firm

Marijuana may be legal in Colorado, but you can still be fired for using it. Employers’ zero- tolerance drug policies trump Colorado’s medical marijuana laws, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Monday. In a 6-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that businesses can terminate an employee for the use of medical marijuana – even if it’s off-duty.

Coats v. Dish Network.

Brandon Coats became a quadriplegic after a car accident and has relied on medical marijuana to help with muscle spasms. Dish Network fired Coats after a failed drug test in 2010.  “As a national employer, Dish remains committed to a drug-free workplace and compliance with federal law,” company spokesman John Hall said in a statement.  To read about the Coats v. Dish Network case in its entirety, click here.

What is Lawful Activity?

This case was brought based on Colorado Revised Statute 24-34-402.5, Colorado’s “lawful activities statute.” The Supreme Court held the term “lawful” in the statute refers only to those activities that are lawful under both state and federal law. Therefore, employees who engage in an activity such as medical marijuana use that is permitted by state law but unlawful under federal law, are not protected by this statute.  Like Texas, Colorado law allows employers to set their own policies on drug use.  Unlike Texas, Colorado has a law that says employees can’t be fired for “lawful” off-duty activities.
To read C.R.S. § 24-34-402.5. – Unlawful prohibition of legal activities as a condition of employment, click here.

Legal Off-Duty Activity.

Coats claims that Dish Network violated C.R.S. § 24-34-402.5, by terminating him due to his state licensed use of medical marijuana at home during non-working hours. The Colorado justices ruled that because marijuana is illegal under federal law, Coat’s use of the drug couldn’t be considered legal off-duty activity.  State laws only govern the citizens within a particular state, but federal laws apply to all U.S. citizens. Therefore, federal laws trump state laws.

To read past blogs on this topic or any health law topic, visit our blog pages on our website : www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Visit our Colorado Health Law blog.

Comments?

Do you think medical marijuana is considered a “lawful” activity? Do you agree with Dish Network’s decision? Do you think Coats v. Dish Network was a fair case, why or why not? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

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:

Linsley, Brennon. “Colorado court: Workers can be fired for using pot off-duty.” The News Herald. (June 15, 2015) From:

http://www.morganton.com/colorado-court-workers-can-be-fired-for-using-pot-off/article_f4f67447-5d36-5e6e-9a67-8548d5fc77a4.html

“24-34-402.5. Unlawful Prohibition of Legal Activities as a Condition of Employment.” Department of Regulatory Agencies. (June 15, 2015) From:

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobheadername2=Content-Type&blobheadervalue1=inline%3B+filename%3D%22Colorado+Anti-Discrimination+Act+statutes+-+unofficial.pdf%22&blobheadervalue2=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251818317123&ssbinary=true

Coats v. Dish Network, LLC., CO 44. No. 13SC394. U.S. (2015)

About the Author: Carole C. Schriefer is an attorney with 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 Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620. The Health Law Firm also has offices in Fort Collins, Colorado and Pensacola, Florida.

KeyWords:  Employment Law, medical marijuana, medical cannabis, marijuana license, defense attorney, drug-free work place, Drug-Free Work Place Act, employee rights, employer rights, employment law, employment termination, Colorado marijuana laws, health care lawyer, health lawyer, law attorney, legalizing marijuana, licensed medical marijuana user, marijuana, medical marijuana license, medical marijuana policy, physician attorney, physician lawyer, workplace marijuana regulations, lawful activity, lawful off-duty activity, federal law, state law, Supreme Court, zero tolerance, zero tolerance drug policy, THC, compliance, Recreational drug laws and regulations, Government regulations, Courts, Colorado, health care, health issues, health law, health law attorney, health law 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 © 2017 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Colorado Health Board Rejects Medical Marijuana Proposal for PTSD Treatment

IMG_5571 darken lighten center and skin sofBy Carole C. Schriefer, R.N., J.D., The Health Law Firm

On July 15, 2015, the Colorado Board of Health denied a bid to approve medical marijuana as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Colorado is known for pushing the boundaries with marijuana, but health officials rejected the idea that it can be an effective form of treatment for PTSD patients. The board voted against the recommendation of the state’s chief medical officer and marks the third time Colorado’s health officials have said ‘No’ to including PTSD on its marijuana approved list of uses.

Is Marijuana Medicine?

The Colorado Board of Health voted 6-2, to reject a petition for PTSD to be considered a “debilitating condition” and can be treated with medical marijuana. Several veterans testified that marijuana saved their lives, but some board members believed that there was not enough scientific evidence or medical trials to support this claim. The board, many of them physicians, said they couldn’t approve a medical treatment that falls short of federal guidelines. To read this article in full from The Denver Post, click here.

Some of those attending the vote, noted that none of the conditions currently approved for medical marijuana cards, including AIDS, epilepsy and glaucoma, has the kind of scientific evidence or research to support the claim To read more of this from the Associated Press, click here.

To read a past blog on marijuana policy, click here.

Vote Yes.

According to The Denver Post, supporters of the proposal say that rather than focusing on the hard science, the needs of patients should also be considered. If it had been approved, it would have allowed physicians to recommend certain medical marijuana strains to provide relief without a ‘high’, according to Teri Robnett, director of the Cannabis Patients Alliance. Click here to go to their website and learn more about the Cannabis Patients Alliance.

Legal But With Limits.

Voters in Colorado have approved the legal use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, but government officials have not been quick to jump on board. Despite this recent rejection, Colorado has approved the use of marijuana for various health ailments. Colorado’s approved list of uses for medical marijuana currently includes muscle spasms, epilepsy, cancer, severe glaucoma and nausea. Currently, nine states allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana treatment for PTSD patients. To read a past blog on uses of medical marijuana, click here.

Comments?

Do you agree that PTSD should be excluded from the medical marijuana approval list? Do you approve of using medical marijuana as a treatment? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

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 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


Sources:

Draper, Electa. “Colorado Board Voted No on Allowing Medical Marijuana for PTSD.” The Denver Post. (July 15, 2015). From: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_28487952/colorado-board-votes-no-allowing-medical-pot-ptsd

Gray, Eliza. “Colorado Health Board Votes ‘No’ on Treating PTSD With Marijuana.” Time. ( July 15, 2015). From: http://time.com/3960940/colorado-ptsd-marijuana/

Coffman, Keith. “Colorado Rejects Medical Marijuana for PTSD Treatment.” Reauters. ( July 18, 2015). From: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/16/us-usa-colorado-marijuana-idUSKCN0PQ0CC20150716

Wyatt, Kristin. “Pot-pioneering Colorado rejects marijuana as PTSD treatment.” Associated Press. (July 16, 2015). From: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/ce4bcc9493e1470aa56a40ef0b7c95e3/colorado-land-pot-experimentation-rejects-ptsd-use

About the Author: Carole C. Schriefer is a nurse-attorney 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.

KeyWords: Colorado Board of Health, Colorado Marijuana law, Cannabis Patients Alliance, post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, medical marijuana for PTSD treatment, PTSD treatment, medical marijuana approval list, medical marijuana treatment, licensed medical marijuana user, medical marijuana defense attorney, marijuana lawyer health law, health care attorney, health care lawyer, medical cannabis, health law firm, 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.

Cities All Over Florida Prepare for Medical Marijuana, Even Altamonte Springs!

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

Medical marijuana stores are one-step closer to being able to operate in Altamonte Springs as officials give initial green light to proposed ordinances. The city commission voted unanimously Tuesday evening in favor of the new city ordinances that would require medical marijuana businesses to secure licenses from the city. To learn more about medical marijuana legislation in Florida, click here.

Click here to read a copy of the city commission’s agenda from Tuesday.

Establishing Ground Rules.

Altamonte Springs city officials are looking to establish certain guidelines for future medical marijuana related businesses that open within city limits. Under these proposed ordinances, businesses would be required to secure a medical marijuana permit from the city on an annual basis. The permits would restrict medical marijuana businesses to establish in industrial or very light industrial zoning districts.

The drafted rules also state that medical marijuana related businesses can only operate during certain business hours and cannot stand within 300 feet of a school, park or childcare center. “I think we’re very appropriately in front of this issue,” City Manager Frank Martz told the commission on Tuesday. These ordinances are set to return to the commission for a final vote in December.
To read further about medical marijuana legalization on Florida, read one of our past blogs here.

Comments?

Do you agree with these proposed ordinances? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

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 :

Rodgers, Bethany. “Altamonte prepares for medical marijuana.” Orlando Sentinel. (November 17, 2015). 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: Florida medical marijuana, medical marijuana legislation, medical marijuana laws, medical cannabis, medical marijuana stores, medical marijuana license, medical marijuana legalization, medical marijuana lawyer, defense attorney, health lawyer, 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.
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