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D.C. mayor expands cannabis protections for workers

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser clarified legal protections for certain District employees who consume cannabis while away from the job. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. mayor expands cannabis protections for workers

Mayor Muriel Bowser signed an order last week clarifying legal protections for certain District employees who consume cannabis while away from the job. The new rules apply to all District government agencies under the direct administrative authority of the mayor.

Under the rules, many would-be employees will no longer face pre-employment drug screenings. The order states: “Employees who are not in a safety-sensitive position will be tested for drugs only upon reasonable suspicion, or after an accident or incident. Thus, those employees not in safety-sensitive positions may find that they can use cannabis, with or without a medical card authorizing [it], so long as they are not impaired at work.”

Commenting on the policy change, NORML NE Political Associate Tyler McFadden said: “Employment protections are critical to ensure that law-abiding adults are not unduly discriminated against in their efforts to be productive members of society solely because of their use of cannabis while off the job. This order provides clarity and guidance to employers and peace of mind to the employees who work in the District of Columbia.”

For employees seeking safety-sensitive positions, the order states that those who test positive for the presence of cannabis on a pre-employment drug screen may be “disqualified.” In some cases, however, the order states that those who initially test positive for cannabis may receive a “second opportunity to take a drug test at least two weeks after the initial test results have been provided.”

In cases involving post-accident testing, a positive drug test result for cannabis metabolites will continue to be viewed as presumptive evidence of impairment. However, this “presumption may be overcome if the employee presents clear or convincing evidence that he or she was not impaired at the time of the test.”

Because THC’s primary metabolite, carboxy-THC is lipid soluble, residual levels of the compound may persist in urine for weeks or even months post-abstinence. According to the US Department of Justice, a positive urine test screen for drug metabolites “does not indicate abuse or addiction, recency, frequency, or amount of use; or impairment.”

Earlier this month, members of the DC City Council approved Act Number A23-0114: The Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Temporary Amendment Act, which seeks to impose explicit protections for medical cannabis patients against workplace discrimination.

Utah officials revise medical cannabis law

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the Utah House and Senate unanimously approved legislation revising the state’s nascent medical cannabis access program during a special legislative session last week.

Under the revised plan, the distribution of medical cannabis products will no longer be overseen by public health regulators. Rather, the state will license as many as 14 private entities throughout the state to dispense cannabis products to authorized patients. The new legislation also permits courier services to engage in cannabis deliveries to those patients who either reside a significant distance from an operating dispensary or who are homebound.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert expressed support for the changes, stating, “The bill will help provide safe and efficient access to an important medical option for patients while also taking public safety into consideration.”

This is the second time in less than a year that lawmakers have convened a special session to amend the state’s medical cannabis law. Voters in 2018  approved Proposition 2, which legalized the use and dispensing of medical cannabis to qualified patients. Shortly thereafter, lawmakers held a special legislative session where they voted to repeal and replace the initiative law with their own legislation. Specifically, lawmakers eliminated patients’ option to home cultivate cannabis, narrowed the list of qualifying conditions, and placed additional restrictions on the dispensing of cannabis products, among other changes.

Regulators want to amend rules for clinical cannabis testing

The Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration have acknowledged that existing federal regulations hinder clinical cannabis research, and are suggesting that scientists be able to legally access cannabis products from sources other than the University of Mississippi – the only federally licensed supply source of marijuana for research purposes.

In a letter to Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), first obtained by Politico, the officials acknowledge that the existing monopoly on federally authorized cannabis production limits “the diversity of [cannabis] products and formulations available to researchers, [thus] slowing the development of cannabis-based medications.” The letter’s authors suggest both “licensing additional entities to supply cannabis,” as well as “enabling researchers holding Schedule I licenses for marijuana to obtain products from state authorized dispensaries.”

They conclude that the current regulations governing the clinical study of cannabis, along with the Schedule I status of marijuana under federal law, create “significant administrative cost challenges that slow this research and may deter scientists from pursuing cannabis research altogether.”

Since 2016, officials at the DEA have promised to license additional, private producers of research-grade cannabis. As of yet however, the DEA has failed to take action on more than 30 applications pending before it, and the agency has yet to provide a timeline as to when they intend to do so.  

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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