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ruled that a nursing home violated an anti-discrimination provision of the state’s medical marijuana law when it rescinded an employee’s job offer.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 However, when a drug test came back positive for marijuana, the nursing home rescinded her job offer anyway, citing federal law which indicates marijuana is still illegal.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

DEA’s Medical Marijuana Research Ban Appealed by Professor

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

A University of Massachusetts-Amherst professor is appealing a final order issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that has stopped him from growing marijuana for medical research purposes.

Appeals Court Hears Oral Arguments in Medical Marijuana Research Case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit heard oral arguments in the case on May 11, 2012. During the hearing the DEA attempted to get the case thrown out by claiming that the court has no jurisdiction over the issue. The court’s ruling should come in about three months.

To hear the oral arguments presented in this case, click here.

DEA’s Final Order Rejected Administrative Law Judge Recommendation.

The DEA issued a final order to the professor in August 2011. The order rejected a 2007 recommendation by a DEA Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) which stated that it was in the public interest to grant the professor’s research license. To view the DEA’s Final Order, click here. There is already one lab or research facility that is doing something similar to this.

Professor Has Waited Over a Decade for DEA License.

The professor first applied for a DEA license in June 2001. He intended to start a marijuana production facility at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst under contract to the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). MAPS is a non-profit research and educational organization that hopes to develop marijuana into an FDA approved prescription medicine.

Appeals Court Ruling Could End Medical Marijuana Research Supply Monopoly.

Both the professor and MAPS have been struggling with the DEA to obtain permission to grow marijuana for FDA-approved research since 2001. The appeals court decision in this case could conclude the eleven year battle and possibly end the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research. A University of Mississippi laboratory funded by NIDA is currently the only facility in the United States permitted to grow marijuana for research (but we can’t reveal where it is).

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced with DEA Actions.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm are experienced in handling all types of DEA cases, including final orders, investigations, DEA registration number revocations and more. If you are currently facing adverse action by the DEA contact one of our attorneys by calling (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001. You can also visit our website for more information at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Elliot, Steve. “Appeals Court Accepts Challenge of DEA’s Marijuana Research Denial.” Toke of the Town. (May 10, 2012). From:
http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2012/05/appeals_court_accepts_challenge_of_deas_marijuana.php

MAPS. “MAPS Efforts to Obtain a DEA License for a Medical Marijuana Production Facility.” Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. (2012). From:
http://www.maps.org/research/mmj/

MAPS. “U.S. Appeals Court To Hear Oral Arguments In Case Challenging DEA’s Denial Of License For Medical Marijuana Production Facility.” PR Newswire. (May 10, 2012). From:
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-appeals-court-to-hear-oral-arguments-in-case-challenging-deas-denial-of-license-for-medical-marijuana-production-facility-2012-05-10

Smoker, Jay. “Federal Appeals Court Will Hear Case Against DEA For Denying Medical Marijuana Research.” The Weed Blog. (May 11, 2012). From:
http://www.theweedblog.com/federal-appeals-court-will-hear-case-against-dea-for-denying-medical-marijuana-research/

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.

Medical Marijuana Legalized in Connecticut: Will More Problems Develop for Doctors, Pharmacists?

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

The use of marijuana for medical reasons has been legalized in Connecticut. The state’s governor signed into law HB 5389 on May 31, 2012, which allows licensed physicians to certify a patient’s use of marijuana for medical purposes. Connecticut is the 17th state to legalize marijuana for medical use.

To view Connecticut HB 5389, click here.

Medical Marijuana Legislation in Connecticut Imposes Restrictions on Patients.

The new law outlines restrictions to prevent abuse of the substance. Patients and caregivers in Connecticut must register with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. In addition, a doctor must certify there is a medical need for marijuana to be dispensed. HB 5389’s qualifying medical conditions are cancer, glaucoma, HIV, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries causing spasticity, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, and PTSD. The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is authorized to add additional medical conditions.

Special License Needed for Pharmacists to Dispense Marijuana for Medical Use.

According to HB 5389, only a pharmacist with a special license can dispense medical marijuana. Pharmacists can obtain marijuana from licensed producers, who will pay an application fee of at least $25,000.

Majority of HB 5389 Provisions are Effective October 1, 2012.

The majority of the bill will go into effect on October 1, 2012, including a provision to allow patients to obtain a temporary registration to possess marijuana while the department implements the remainder of the act.

New Legislation Could Mean More Issues for Physicians, Pharmacists.

The passing of HB 5389 could mean more issues for physicians and pharmacists in Connecticut. Because the bill places many restrictions on the medical use of marijuana, the state may closely monitor the actions of physicians and pharmacists who prescribe and dispense medical marijuana.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources Include:

Clark, Mary Ellen. “Connecticut is the 17th State to Legalize Marijuana for Medical Use.” Reuters. (June 1, 2012). From http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/01/us-usa-marijuana-connecticut-idUSBRE85018X20120601

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.

Poll Shows Majority Supports the Legalization of Marijuana

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

For the first time in four decades, a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, according to a national survey conducted by Pew Research. The results from the survey, released on April 4, 2013, show fifty-two percent (52%) of adult Americans back making marijuana legal.

To read all of the poll results from Pew Research, click here.

The Pew Research polled 1,501 American adults from March 13 to 17, 2013, for this survey.

Demographics on Adults Who Support Legal Marijuana.

According to the survey results, forty-eight percent (48%) of poll respondents said they have used marijuana at some point in their life. Younger Americans are more likely to support legalization than their elders. However, the poll does show legalization gaining support among all generations. According to the survey, fifty percent (50%) of baby boomers support legalized marijuana.

Two Big Shifts in Opinion to Support Legalizing Marijuana.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, there are two big opinion shifts Americans have gone through that have swayed their way of thinking. The first thought is most Americans no longer see marijuana as a gateway drug, and the second is most adults no longer see the use of marijuana as immoral.

In fact, according to the survey results, most respondents feel the federal government’s efforts to criminalize marijuana “cost more than they are worth.”

Government’s Stance on Marijuana.

Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia either have decriminalized personal use of medical marijuana, legalized it or allowed it to be used for medical purposes. These state laws clash with federal law that treats marijuana as a dangerous drug with no legitimate medical uses, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Click here to read the article from the Los Angeles Times.

Florida’s Fight for Medical Marijuana.

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, Florida attorney John Morgan of Morgan & Morgan recently jumped behind an effort to legalized medical marijuana in Florida. Morgan’s reputation throughout the community and his personal story on why he is lobbying for medical marijuana has people listening.

Morgan’s father suffered from emphysema and cancer, according to the Orlando Sentinel. His appetite was suppressed apparently due to the medicine he was on near the end of his life, and medical marijuana gave him some relief. Morgan said he was motivated to join this cause when he saw a poll that stated seven out of ten Floridians would support a constitutional amendment to support legalized medical marijuana. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Morgan has seen the benefits of medical marijuana firsthand.

Click here to read the entire Orlando Sentinel article.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Do you think marijuana should be legalized? Do you think Florida will legalize medical marijuana? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

|Sources:

“Majority Now Supports Legalizing Marijuana.” Pew Research. (April 4, 2013). From: http://www.people-press.org/2013/04/04/majority-now-supports-legalizing-marijuana/#comfort-level

Kassab, Beth. “John Morgan Could Take Medical Marijuana Mainstream.” Orlando Sentinel. (March 18, 2013). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-beth-kassab-medical-marijuana-20130318,0,2558234.column

Lauter, David. “Marijuana Legalization Wins Majority Support in Poll.” Los Angeles Times. (April 4, 2013). From: http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-marijuana-legalization-majority-support-20130404,0,2533952.story

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.

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

The Fight for Medical Marijuana Lights Up in Florida and Across the U.S.

9 Indest-2008-6By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The fight to legalize medical marijuana seems to be spreading across the country. In Florida, a medical marijuana group said it cleared the first major hurdle to get a proposed constitutional amendment for medical marijuana on the 2014 ballot. In Illinois, the governor recently signed a law allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes. Similarly, New Jersey’s governor also recently relaxed the state’s medical marijuana law for sick children.

Currently, twenty states plus the District of Columbia have effective laws that decriminalize medical marijuana.

Supreme Court to Review Florida’s Medical Marijuana Proposal.

According to the Miami Herald, People United for Medical Marijuana, a medical marijuana group, has collected at least 110,000 voter signatures in support of allowing the use of medical marijuana throughout the state. These signatures initiate the first step in getting the initiative on the 2014 November ballot, a Supreme Court review of the proposal language. The Supreme Court will review the proposal and will rule on its constitutionality.

To continue the group will need 583,149 more verified voter signatures by February 1, 2014, to get on the 2014 ballot, according to the Miami Herald. It will then need 60 percent (60%) approval from voters in order to be made a state constitutional amendment.

The People United for Medical Marijuana’s proposal only allows tightly controlled, medically prescribed marijuana. Florida attorney John Morgan of Morgan & Morgan recently jumped behind an effort to legalized medical marijuana in Florida. Morgan’s reputation throughout the community and his personal story on why he is lobbying for medical marijuana has people listening. To read a previous blog on Mr. Morgan’s support of medical marijuana, click here. If approved, Florida would be the 21st state to decriminalize marijuana.

Click here to read the Miami Herald article.

Illinois Allows Medical Marijuana.

On August 1, 2013, the governor of Illinois signed a law allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes, according to Reuters. The law takes effect January 1, 2014, and allows patients diagnosed with one of 35 medical conditions to use marijuana. To receive the drug, a patient must have a recommendation from an Illinois licensed physician, must present a registered patient photo identification card, and the patient must be verified through an electronic system. According to Reuters, under the Illinois law patients will be limited to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.

To learn more on the restrictions of this law, click here to read the Reuters article.

New Jersey Governor Allows Medical Marijuana for Sick Children.

Just weeks later, on August 17, 2013, New Jersey’s governor relaxed the state’s medical marijuana law, making it easier for chronically ill children to use the drug as part of their treatment. According to CBS News, the governor approved expanding the state’s medical marijuana program to allow the edible form of marijuana for children 18 years old and younger. To get medical marijuana, the young patients will be required to have approval from a pediatrician and a psychiatrist.

Click here to read the CBS News article.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.

The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

Do you think marijuana should be legalized? Do you think Florida will legalize medical marijuana? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Caputo, Marc. “Medical Marijuana Slows Petition Drive Until High Court Rules.” Miami Herald. (August 15, 2013). From: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/15/3565544/medical-marijuana-slows-petition.html

Wisniewski, Mary. “Illinois Governor Signs Law Allowing Medical Marijuana.” Reuters. (August 1, 2013). From: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/01/us-usa-marijuana-illinois-idUSBRE97018920130801

Brown, Terry, Burkholder, Amy, and Hirschkorn, Phil. “Christie Oks Medical Marijuana Bill for Ill Children.” CBS News. (August 17, 2013). From: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57599009/christie-oks-medical-marijuana-bill-for-ill-children/

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.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.