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NYC may limit drug testing for cannabis in employment

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Bill DeBlasio, gay news, Washington Blade

A measure barring employers from drug testing certain job applicants for the presence of marijuana awaits Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s signature. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

NYC may limit drug testing for cannabis in employment

NEW YORK — Members of the New York City Council have approved a pair of municipal bills limiting situations where those seeking employment or on probation may be drug tested for the past use of cannabis.

Council members overwhelmingly voted in favor of a municipal proposal (No.1445) barring employers from drug testing certain job applicants for the presence of marijuana.

The proposal states, “[I]t shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer, labor organization, employment agency, or agent thereof to require a prospective employee to submit to testing for the presence of any tetrahydrocannabinols or marijuana in such prospective employee’s system as a condition of employment.” Council members passed the bill by a vote of 40 to 4.

Under the plan, employees seeking certain safety sensitive positions — such as police officers or commercial drivers — or those positions regulated by federal drug testing guidelines, would be exempt from the municipal law.

The measure now awaits final approval from Mayor Bill DeBlasio. The new rules would take effect one year after being signed into law.

Studies have identified the presence of the inert carboxy-THC metabolite in the urine of former marijuana consumers for periods of several months following their last exposure.

Council members also advanced separate legislation (No. 1427) to the mayor’s office limiting situations in which persons on probation may be drug tested. Once signed, the new rules will take immediate effect.

A resolution (Res. 641) calling on the New York City officials to expunge the records of all city misdemeanor marijuana convictions is pending. New York City police made over 78,000 marijuana possession arrests between the years 2014 and 2017.

Israel: Private cannabis use no longer criminal

JERUSALEM — Israeli adults may possess or cultivate personal use amounts of cannabis in their homes, under new policies that took effect earlier this month.

Under the amended law, which took effect on April 1, the private possession of cannabis is no longer classified as either a criminal or a civil violation. The possession or use of cannabis in public is punishable by a fine. In cases where an adult is in repeated violation of the law, police at their discretion may pursue a criminal investigation.

The Times of Israel newspaper quoted Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan as stating that the new limited legalization policy is an “important step” that “shift[s] the focus from the criminal process to fines, education, public information and rehabilitation.”

Portsmouth, Va. to dismiss all pot possession cases

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Officials for the city of Portsmouth (population 95,000) will no longer seek to criminally prosecute low-level marijuana possession offenses.

“Effective immediately, please be advised that this office hereby moves for dismissal … on all possession of marijuana charges in the Portsmouth General District Court,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie N. Morales stated in an April 8 correspondence to judges.

In comments to local news media, Morales said that prosecutors ought to focus their limited resources toward more serious crimes. “It is really time we think about how we start to decarcerate as opposed to incarcerating for every type of crime,” she said.

Under state law, first-time marijuana possession violations are classified as a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail.

Her actions are similar to those recently taken in Norfolk, Virginia (population 255,000), as well as in a number of other major cities throughout the country, including BaltimorePhiladelphia, and St. Louis.

Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. For more information, visit norml.org.

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Highstream 420 Festival Livestream

Join us on 4/20 at 4:00pm EST for a full day of music performances, online workshops, demos, and interactive panels.

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America’s largest cannabis gatherings, National Cannabis Festival and The Emerald Cup, combine forces for a coast-to-coast online 420 festival benefiting Coronavirus relief charities.

Join us on 4/20 at 4:00pm EST for a full day of music performances, online workshops, demos, and interactive panels.

The Los Angeles Blade will be live streaming on this page and on our Facebook page HERE.

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Cannabis Culture

Cannabis Culture

Two-thirds of Latinos back legalizing marijuana

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Two-thirds of Latinos back legalizing marijuana

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — More than two in three U.S. Hispanic adults support legalizing marijuana, according to nationwide polling data compiled by the digital media firm H Code.

Pollsters surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 1,300 English- and Spanish-speaking U.S. Hispanic respondents. Sixty-eight percent of those polled said that they are favor of legalizing marijuana in the United States.

That percentage is consistent with other nationwide polls of U.S. adults, such as those here, here, and here, finding that two-thirds of respondents believe that the adult use of cannabis ought to be legal. By contrast, prior polls of Hispanic-only voters had often reported that Latinos were less likely than the general population to express support for legalizing cannabis.

Smoking cannabis is most popular method of ingestion

SEATTLE — Adults who consume cannabis are most likely to smoke it, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Researchers analyzed data from over 6,100 adult cannabis consumers in 12 states. Ninety-one percent of respondents acknowledging having smoked herbal cannabis, with 59 percent reporting that inhalation “was their only mode of marijuana use.” By contrast, only 25 percent of respondents reported having ever used cannabis-infused edible products, and only 20 percent reported ever having vaporized cannabis. Five percent of subjects reported exclusively consuming marijuana edibles, and two percent said that they only vaped cannabis.

The data is consistent with prior studies, such as those here and here, showing that the majority of people who self-report consuming cannabis do so by methods that involve smoking the substance.

Medical cannabis is Maine’s 3rd largest economic market

AUGUSTA, Maine — Patients purchased an estimated $112 million worth of medical cannabis-related products in 2019, according to newly released Maine tax data.

The annual revenues related to medical cannabis are more than the total revenues generated by the sales of blueberries, maple syrup, apples, herring, and oysters combined. Only the state’s lobster industry and potato industry bring in more annual revenue.

Some three-quarters of the revenue generated from medical cannabis (85.3 million) came from sales by caregivers to patients. Although the state’s medical cannabis access program has been operational for some two decades, Maine officials only began tracking caregiver-related tax revenue in February of 2019.

Licensed retail adult-use marijuana sales are anticipated to begin in June.

 

Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.

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Cannabis Culture

Cannabis Culture

ABA calls for marijuana banking access

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SAFE Banking Act, gay news, Washington BladeABA calls for marijuana banking access

CHICAGO — The American Bar Association has adopted a resolution urging the passage of federal legislation facilitating banks and other financial institutions to legally interact with licensed cannabis businesses.

The resolution calls for the “enactment of [federal] laws to ensure that it shall not constitute a federal crime for banks and financial institutions to provide cannabis-related services.”

Under existing law, banks are discouraged from engaging with state-licensed marijuana businesses. In September, members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted 321 to 103 in favor of HR 1595: The SAFE Banking Act, amending federal law so that financial institutions may work directly with state-legal marijuana businesses without fear of federal repercussions. The bill now awaits action from the Senate Banking Committee. However, Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-Ind.) has expressed opposition to the measure.

In 2019, the ABA adopted a separate resolution urging Congress “to enact legislation to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.” With over 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is among the largest voluntary organizations in the world.

More seniors turning to cannabis

NEW YORK — Cannabis use is increasing among those ages 65 and older, according to data published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers affiliated with the New York School of Medicine assessed trends in self-reported cannabis use among seniors. They reported that 4.2 percent of seniors acknowledged engaging in past-year cannabis consumption in 2018, up from 2.4 percent in 2015 and 0.4 percent in 2006.

The study’s findings are consistent with those of prior papers similarly reporting an uptick in marijuana use among older Americans. According to a 2019 study published in the journal Gerontology & Geriatric Medicine, marijuana use among seniors is associated with self-reported improvements in pain management, day-to-day functioning, and in their overall health and quality of life.

Employers’ attitudes shifting on drug tests

SUNNYVALE, Calif. — A growing number of companies are either abandoning marijuana-specific drug testing programs or reducing the frequency with which they test, according to nationwide survey data compiled by the online recruitment website Simply Hired Incorporated.

Fifty-five percent of hiring managers polled in the survey said that their companies do not test current employees for off-the-job marijuana use. Among those hiring managers who work for companies that do engage in testing, 40 percent said that “they do it less often than in the past.” Larger-sized companies (1,000+ employees) were far more likely to utilize pre-employment testing for cannabis than were smaller-sized companies.

Nearly 70 percent of hiring managers said that their company would be “okay” with an employee using cannabis while away from work “as long as the company remains unaware of it.” Among employees surveyed, 75 percent said testing positive for marijuana should not be grounds for automatic termination.

 

Cannabis Culture news in the Blade is provided in partnership with NORML. Visit norml.org for more information.

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