Pages tagged "discrimination"
Although medical cannabis has been legal in California for more than eighteen years, legal patients still face pervasive discrimination. I hear from patients facing discrimination in employment, housing, parental rights, or access to health care every week. This discrimination can have serious consequences for patients – sometime even lethal consequences. ASA is sponsoring legislation this year to prevent discrimination against legal patients who need organ transplants, in part, because at least one member has already died after being denied a place on the organ transplant waiting list due to his medical cannabis use.
Do you face discrimination as a medical cannabis patient? Are you a victim or workplace drug testing? Have you been denied prescription pain medication because you use medical cannabis? Have your parental or custody rights been infringed? ASA needs to hear from you. Our 26-question CA Discrimination Survey will help us talk to lawmakers, the media, and others about the very real discrimination faced by medical cannabis patients in California today.
The survey data could lead to better laws, court decisions, and untimely, less stigma about medical cannabis use. Please take a couple of minutes to complete the mostly yes-or-no questions, and then forward the link to others who might have useful input – http://www.safeaccessnow.org/ca_discrimination_survey
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Finally, President Obama has spoken about his aggressive stance toward medical marijuana. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, his statements are underwhelming, inaccurate and do nothing to address medical marijuana as a public health issue. In response to a question from Rolling Stone on why his administration is conducting more medical marijuana raids than the Bush administration, President Obama failed to come clean on reasons for the breadth and intensity of the attacks, which significantly escalated since he took office.
What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana…
Actually, what Obama said on the campaign trail in 2008 was that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state [medical marijuana] laws.”
The shell game continued with Obama declaring that, as President, he “can’t ask the Justice Department to…‘ignore…a federal law that’s on the books.’”
In fact, Obama has complete discretion to let local and state authorities enforce their own medical marijuana laws. When affirming that discretionary authority in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court also questioned the wisdom of going after medical marijuana patients.
Obama then declared that his Justice Department should use “prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize [its] resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.”
That, however, seems to beg several questions, not the least of which is “how does one determine what “things” are “really doing folks damage?” Why is that not the purview of local and state officials to enforce? And, is the federal government doing more damage than it’s supposedly preventing? Keep in mind that the damage his administration has inflicted also impacts the fiscal bottom line of local and state governments. In California, dispensary closures precipitated by the federal crackdown have robbed the state of millions of dollars in lost taxes.
The president seems to seek cover with his comment that, “there haven’t been prosecutions” of medical marijuana users. But, even if it was true, and it’s not (all of the more than 60 people indicted on his watch use medical marijuana), this reasoning would still not justify the SWAT-style raids and the fear and intimidation they create. Nor would it justify the purging of lawful medical marijuana businesses from commercial banking institutions, or the IRS requirement that dispensaries pay taxes on gross proceeds, thereby ensuring bankruptcy, or discrimination against patients in public housing and the Veterans Administration.
At the end of the day, whether or not Obama’s Justice Department decides to prosecute whom it considers “wrongdoers,” qualified patients are still being denied a safe and legal means of obtaining their medication.
Even Obama’s “Drug War” excuses don’t match those of his U.S. Attorneys who are directly engaged in the attacks. The president erroneously stated that, “The only tension that’s come up” has been “commercial operations” that may be “supplying recreational users.” However, U.S. Attorneys have made little reference to targeting medical marijuana businesses because they’re allegedly selling to non-patients. The prevailing excuse has been simply that dispensaries are federally illegal or that they are too close to schools and other so-called “sensitive uses” (according to federal standards, not to local or state standards).
Obama’s weakest rationale for continuing the assault on medical marijuana patients is that he “can’t nullify congressional law.” However, the president can realistically do a number of things to address medical marijuana as a public health issue. First of all, Obama could introduce a bill that would carve out an exception for medical marijuana patients and providers. In fact, he doesn’t even have to introduce his own legislation, he could simply throw his weight behind HB 1983, a bill that would do just that. The president could also issue an executive order, not to change federal marijuana statutes but to exclude medical marijuana so as to let the states enforce their own laws.
Additionally, the president, through his executive powers, could also reclassify marijuana from its current status as a Schedule I substance -- a dangerous drug with no medical value. Yet, he and his Drug Enforcement Administration choose not to. In addition to four governors who have filed rescheduling petitions within the last year, Americans for Safe Access has a pending federal lawsuit that seeks reclassification.
At some point, President Obama is going to run out of excuses. Until then, please join ASA in urging him to do the right thing.
It’s only my life that I'm fighting for. What do I have to hide? I have nothing to hide.Smith called his chances a “long shot,” but still wanted to “effect a change:”
It’s probably too late for me, but I hope it makes it easier for the next guy.Unfortunately, there are plenty of other medical marijuana patients in California and other states who are suffering the same fate as Smith. With the authority for such decisions left to Cedars and transplant centers like it, the push for policy change must be directed locally. As such, ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford sent a letter to Cedars, urging it to immediately re-list Smith and change it policy with regard to medical marijuana. So far, Cedars has refused to budge. Stay tuned here at Voices from the Frontlines for next steps in the transplant case of Norman Smith and the outdated policies of Cedars-Sinai. In the meantime, view this additional video footage of Smith and his plight.
Two weeks ago, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), under the Obama Justice Department, issued a memorandum instructing firearms dealers not to sell to lawful medical marijuana patients. The ATF memo -- an affront to patients’ Second Amendment rights to be sure -- was just the latest in a long list of policy statements and threatening letters from the federal government aimed at undermining the rights of medical marijuana patients. However, this particular effort against gun owners has people riled up more than usual.
After finding out about the ATF memo, Montana’s congressional delegation -- Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), and U.S. Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jon Tester (D-MT) -- blasted the decision. In response, Tester wrote a letter to the ATF last week, urging the agency to “immediately reconsider [its] misguided effort.” Rep. Rehberg and Senator Baucus made similar condemning remarks.
In defense of patients, Senator Tester wrote:
It is unacceptable that law-abiding citizens would be stripped of their Second Amendment rights simply because they hold a state-issued card authorizing the possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
In Michigan, the ATF is being especially proactive. Americans for Safe Access has received reports that the federal government is using information obtained from the state’s medical marijuana program to serve search warrants and forfeiture notices on patients with legally possessed firearms.
The ATF memo comes after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a notice to state and local housing authorities that accommodation need not be given to legal medical marijuana patients and that eviction from public housing was an acceptable option.
Also earlier this year, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued an order, increasing the enforcement responsibilities of banks to ensure against criminal and illicit activity. This order has been used to deny or cancel banking services for countless legally operating medical marijuana dispensaries across the country. According to a Denver Post editorial from today:
[L]ast week, the lone bank in the state that openly worked with the [medical marijuana] industry closed an estimated 300 marijuana-related accounts for fear that the companies are breaking federal law.
In a now-famous move, the Obama Justice Department sent out a series of letters this summer to public officials in at least 10 medical marijuana states, threatening criminal prosecution for implementing public health laws. This had a deleterious effect on several local and state laws in Arizona, California, Montana, Rhode Island and Washington to name a few.
More recently, however, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that Harborside Health Center -- possibly the largest licensed medical marijuana distribution facility in California -- could not deduct its operating costs and must pay taxes on gross income. Besides the possibility of putting Harborside out of business, this could have a devastating effect on local distribution across the country.
The ATF memo and other examples of intolerance by the federal government illustrate the need for a federal policy that treats medical marijuana as a public health issue. As such, urge President Obama to develop a comprehensive policy on medical marijuana. Also, people should urge their Member of Congress to pass HR 1983 to reclassify medical marijuana, HR 1984 to restore banking services for the medical marijuana community, and HR 1985 to allow dispensaries to deduct their operating expenses when paying federal taxes.
The California Senate will vote this week on a bill to protect responsible law-abiding medical cannabis patients from employment discrimination. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) needs your help today to be sure that AB 129 is approved.
Take a moment right now to call your California Senator and ask him or her to support SB 129!
ASA is sponsoring Senator Mark Leno’s (D-SF) SB 129 to protect legal patients who face workplace discrimination just because they use medical cannabis. It is not fair that legal patients can be denied a job, be fired, or live in fear every day. SB 129 will stop this discrimination – but only if your Senator knows it is important to you.
SB 129 is a reasonable bill. It does not allow patients to use medical cannabis at work or be impaired by medical cannabis in the workplace. It contains an exemption for safety-sensitive positions. SB 129 simply gives legal medical cannabis patients the same protection as prescription drug users. That is not too much to ask!
Call your California Senator today and ask him or her to support SB 129. ASA’s Online Action Center makes it easy to find your Senator… and we even have a sample script for your phone call.
Your call will only take a minute, but it makes a big difference. Senators need to hear from medical cannabis patients and supporters right now – before they vote on SB 129. I’ll be in Sacramento this week working on the last few votes we need in the Senate, but lawmakers need to know there is an active constituency behind this bill. Make that call today!
Thank you for helping ASA protect and expand patients’ rights in California.
The California Senate will soon vote on SB 129, a bill sponsored by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) that will protect responsible, law abiding patients from discrimination in the workplace. Can you take minute right now to call your Senator and ask him or her to support SB 129?
Employers in California can fire an employee just for being a medical cannabis patient – even if the employee does not use medical cannabis at work. That is not fair, and ASA needs your help to stop it. Senator Mark Leno’s (D-SF) SB 129 will prevent discrimination in hiring, promotion of any term of employment. But the bill does not allow patients to use medical cannabis in the workplace or be impaired by cannabis during work hours. SB 129 simply establishes the same rights for medical cannabis patients as those that prescription drug users already enjoy.
ASA needs your help today to pass SB 129 in the Senate and move on to the Assembly. Our Online Action Center makes it easy to identify and contact your Senator right now. Make the call and make a difference!
SB 129 is part of ASA’s ongoing effort to protect and expand patients’ rights. Our successful advocacy, media, and legal campaigns have resulted in important court precedents, new sentencing standards, and more compassionate community guidelines. Please make a donation to help ASA can keep fighting for patients’ rights in California.
Visit the SB 129 page to learn more about the bill and download a useful Fact Sheet. Thank you for your participation and support!
Employers in California can fire a legal medical cannabis patient, even if he or she does not use medicine in the workplace or come to work impaired. Patients facing termination or random drug screenings call Americans for Safe Access (ASA) every week looking for help, and there is no way to know how many more live in silent fear of losing their jobs every day. California Senator Mark Leno (D-SF) has just introduced ASA-sponsored legislation to finally protect responsible, law abiding patients from employment discrimination. Now we need your help to be sure SB 129 is adopted and signed by the Governor this year.
In 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled in Ross v. Ragingwire Communications that the termination of a 45-year old veteran solely for medical cannabis use was legal. In what California Lawyer Magazine called one of the “worst decisions of the year,” the Court held that voters did not intend to protect patients’ civil rights when they adopted Proposition 215. Less than one week after that unfortunate decision, then-Assemblymember Leno introduced legislation to clearly establish protections for employment rights. The legislature adopted AB 2279, but it was vetoed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – leaving patients unprotected.
ASA and Senator Leno are ready to finish this important work. SB 129 will prevent discrimination against patients in hiring, termination, or any term of employment, except in the case of safety-sensitive positions. However, the bill does not require an employer to accommodate cannabis impairment or use in the workplace, and does not require the employer to violate any state or federal laws.
The policy of this state should be to encourage gainful employment for those patients who are able to work. That is already the law in other states where medical cannabis is legal, including Arizona, Maine, and Rhode Island. Adopting SB 129 is a matter of basic fairness in employment. It is also important because patients who lose their jobs could become an additional burden for state general assistance, MediCal, and other social service programs that are already stressed by the economic crisis.
SB `129 is a reasonable solution that protects patients, employers, and public safety. ASA needs your help to be sure it is adopted. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be asking you to contact lawmakers and help us build a powerful coalition of support behind the bill. With your help, we can pass this bill again (just like we did in 2008!) and get the new Governor’s signature. When SB 129 is the law, you can be proud of the fact that you helped stop those calls from frightened patients – and helped to protect and expand patients’ rights in California.