The Obama Administration has signaled that it would support a rescheduling of marijuana. Speaking in front of the House Appropriations Committee this morning, Attorney General Eric Holder told lawmakers, “We’d be more than glad to work with Congress if there is a desire to look at and reexamine how the drug is scheduled, as I said there is a great degree of expertise that exists in Congress.” Cannabis is currently a Schedule I drug, meaning it is a dangerous drug of abuse with no medical utility. Moving cannabis to a lower schedule could benefit medical research and allow dispensaries to deduct normal business expenses. Holder added, “It is something that ultimately Congress would have to change, and I think that our administration would be glad to work with Congress if such a proposal were made.” Yet the Controlled Substances Act specifically grants him the authority to “remove any drug or other substance from the schedules if he finds that the drug or other substance does not meet the requirements for inclusion in any schedule.”
A Maryland Delegate with a distinguished civil rights background is attempting to revive a bill to decriminalize possession of 10 grams of marijuana. Del. Keiffer J. Mitchell, Jr. proposed an amendment that would rescue the bill that had been killed by the House Judiciary Committee in lieu of a two-year task force to study the issue. “We in good conscience cannot allow a task force to take place for two years while there [are] racial disparities,” Mitchell said. “We believe that it is not something that should be continued to be studied as the facts continue to stare us in the face.” It is rare to overcome committee opposition to a bill, but Del. Mitchell and members of the Legislative Black Caucus believe there is enough support in the full Assembly. Debate was tabled until Saturday by the committee chairman Joseph F. Vallario, Jr., who strongly opposes decriminalization.
A New Jersey medical marijuana patient is suing NJ Transit for firing him due to a failed drug test. 57-year-old Charlie Davis is a registered patient who uses marijuana for neuropathic pain. When he was bumped from his job by a more senior employee, Charlie applied for another open position. When he was told the position was “safety-sensitive” and required a drug test, Charlie admitted his medical marijuana status to the medical director and offered to apply for a non-safety-sensitive position instead. The medical director told him he had no choice but to take the test and then the drug rehab required for failing the test. Charlie’s been out of work now since the beginning of the year. When asked about Charlie’s case, a NJ Transit spokesman cited federal transportation regulations requiring drug testing. Supreme Courts in California, Oregon, Washington, and Michigan have all sided with the right of employers to fire medical marijuana patients over failed drug tests.
Connecticut has announced the winners of its six statewide dispensaries. Twenty-seven businesses applied for the licenses which were determined based on business information, location and site plan, business plan, marketing plan, and financial and organizational information. One location is being opened by a pharmacist with 27 years’ experience who always wanted to open her own independent drug store. She will be participating in a program that collects survey information from patients on the cannabis varieties they use for their ailments and makes that data available to researchers. Connecticut now has just shy of two thousand registered medical marijuana patients.
Governor Chris Christie might consider allowing adults to use medical marijuana edibles, but will absolutely, positively not legalize marijuana. The embattled governor recently approved changes to the state’s restrictive medical marijuana law to allow only minors to use medicated edibles. Christie was asked by the mother of a fourteen-year-old who suffers severe epilepsy, “What happens when my son turns 18 and can no longer eat the edibles because it’s for minors only?” Christie deflected the question by saying he’d listen to doctors on the issue, adding, “I’m not gonna make marijuana legal in this state for recreational use. I’m not gonna make it decriminalized. I am not going to turn our state into a place where people fly into to get high. And if people want legalized marijuana in the state, elect a new governor.” Actually, Governor Christie, people are flying into New Jersey to avoid LaGuardia Airport, but if removing you from office is what it takes to legalize, challenge accepted.