Tag: New England

Court: Marijuana’s Schedule I Status Does Not Justify Workplace Discrimination Against State-Qualified Patients

HARTFORD, CT — A federal district court judge has determined that marijuana’s illicit status under federal law does not preempt statewide protections explicitly prohibiting qualified medical cannabis patients from facing discrimination in the workplace.

The defendant in the case, Bride Brook Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, argued that marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug under the US Controlled Substances Act provided a legal basis for its decision to rescind a job offer to a would-be employee after she failed a drug screen.

United States District Court Judge Jeffrey Alker Meyer disagreed. He wrote:

“This lawsuit calls upon me to decide if federal law preempts Connecticut law. In particular, I must decide if federal law precludes enforcement of a Connecticut law that prohibits employers from firing or refusing to hire someone who uses marijuana for medicinal purposes. I conclude that the answer to that question is ‘no’ and that a plaintiff who uses marijuana for medicinal purposes in compliance with Connecticut law may maintain a cause of action against an employer who refuses to employ her for this reason.”

The ruling follows that of a similar decision in Massachusetts in July which determined that state-registered medical cannabis patients may sue a private employer for discrimination if they are fired for their off-the-job marijuana use.

The case is Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company, LLC.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Vermont Governor Creating Commission for Cannabis Legalization

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott says he’s organizing a commission to study issues related to the legalization of marijuana and will announce members in the next few days.

As Vermont Public Radio reports, retail outlets in Maine and Massachusetts will begin selling legal recreational marijuana in less than a year. The Republican governor says he wants the new commission to help answer questions about the arrival of legalized marijuana in neighboring states, especially concerning highway safety.

RELATED STORY

Massachusetts Vows Crackdown on Impaired Drivers

Scott says he wants to have more stringent highway safety standards in place before he’ll consider state-sanctioned recreational marijuana sales.

Earlier this year, Scott vetoed legislation that would have legalized possession of marijuana for Vermont residents. A compromise measure he negotiated was later blocked by state House Republicans in June.

RELATED STORY

Vermont Legalization Push Falls Flat, Dead Till 2018

Meanwhile, at least two applicants have filed for a medical marijuana dispensary and cultivation license in Bennington, Vermont.

The Bennington Banner reports that the applications came in after legislators approved a fifth license for the state in June. Lindsey Wells, who works for the registry program, says most of the interest is in Bennington as it has a larger underserved population.

Town Manager Stuart Hurd says he has been contacted by Vermont Green Grow and a doctor’s group from the Burlington area.

RELATED STORY

Vermont Gov. Vetoes Cannabis Legalization Bill

Wells says the applicants will be judged on the safety of the community, health needs of registered patients and their business plan. Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Anderson makes the final decision.

The owner will also be allowed to create a satellite retail operation under the legislation.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Massachusetts Governor Signs Marijuana Legalization Compromise Bill

(@MassGovernor via Twitter)

BOSTON, MA — Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker today signed the marijuana compromise bill sent to him last week by the Legislature, setting the stage for creation of the regulatory structure to oversee legal marijuana sales in Massachusetts.

“We thank the governor for signing the bill and we urge all of the executive and legislative officials involved in the new regulatory system to make timely appointments and ensure proper funding so legal sales can begin on the timetable set by lawmakers last December,” said Matthew Schweich, director of state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign.

Appointments to the Cannabis Advisory Board are to be made by August 1, and appointments to the Cannabis Control Commission are to be made by September 1. The appointments are spread among the governor, the attorney general, and the treasurer.

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg earlier this year submitted a first-year Cannabis Control Commission budget of $10 million, which included a one-time $5.5 million expenditure for seed-to-sale and licensing software necessary to monitor product flow and applicant licensing. The current budget allocates $2 million for the Commission’s first year.

“We take elected officials at their word that there will be no more delays in implementation of the legal sales system. The state will benefit greatly from the tax revenues and jobs created by the new industry, and we are confident lawmakers will secure appropriate funding to get the regulatory system up and running on the current timeline,” said Jim Borghesani, spokesperson for the 2016 campaign and the subsequent advocacy effort to defend the law.

After numerous public hearings by the Committee on Marijuana Policy, the House and Senate came out with separate, and very different, bills making changes to the law passed by voters in November.

The House bill repealed and replaced the law, dramatically altering the tax rate, local control, and the application and enforcement provisions. The Senate bill took a far more moderate approach, making few changes to the November ballot law.

After more than 1,000 telephone calls from Massachusetts voters and intense media pressure generated by the Yes on 4 Coalition and the Marijuana Policy Project, the final bill reflected the Senate’s approach more than the House’s.

The compromise bill’s most significant changes relate to local control and taxes. The legislation adjusts the local control policy, allowing local government officials in towns that voted “no” on the 2016 ballot initiative to ban marijuana businesses until December 2019.

For towns that voted “yes” in 2016, any bans must be placed on a local ballot for voters to approve. The maximum sales tax rate (which depends on whether towns adopt optional local taxes) will increase from 12% to 20%.

Under the bill, the state tax will be 17% and the local option will be 3%.

Click here to read the full text of the bill.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Massachusetts Lawmakers Agree on Question 4 Implementation Measure

A supporter holds up a “Yes on 4” sign at the 2016 Boston Freedom Rally (Scott Gacek/The Daily Chronic)

BOSTON, MA — Massachusetts House and Senate leaders have reconciled a pair of bills seeking to amend Question 4 – a voter-approved measure regulating the licensed production and sale of marijuana.

The compromise bill raises the maximum tax rate that can be imposed on commercial cannabis transactions from 12 percent to 20 percent. Medical marijuana retail sales will not be subject to taxation under the new plan.

The revised bill limits the ability of local communities to ban retail facilities if a majority of voters approved Question 4, but it makes it easier for communities to do so if they opposed the initiative.

Lawmakers also agreed to expand patients’ access to medicinal cannabis by permitting nurses and physician assistants the ability to recommend cannabis therapy.

The revised measure now goes to Gov. Charlie Baker who is expected to sign it into law.

In January, Gov. Baker signed legislation into law delaying the timeline for the implementation of retail cannabis sales from January 1, 2018 to July 1, 2018.

Tags: , , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New Hampshire Marijuana Decriminalization Measure Signed Into Law

CONCORD, NH — New Hampshire’s Republican Governor Chris Sununu has signed legislation decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses.

House Bill 640, which takes effect in 60 days, eliminates criminal penalties for the possession of up to 3/4 of an ounce of cannabis and/or up to five grams of hashish for those age 18 or older.

Under the new law, first time offenders will receive a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine.

Presently, first-time marijuana possession is punishable by up to one year in prison, a potential $2,000 fine, and a criminal record.

“New Hampshire now will finally join the chorus of states that recognize the baseline level of dignity for it’s citizens and tourists who choose to consume marijuana,” said Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director. “Soon, throughout New England, individuals will be able to freely travel without the threat of jail time for possession of marijuana.”

New Hampshire is the only New England state that presently treats minor possession offenses as a criminal offense.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New Hampshire Just Decriminalized Cannabis Possession

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday signed a bill to decriminalize cannabis possession, removing criminal penalties for having up to three-quarters of an ounce of cannabis or up to five grams of hash.

With the law’s passage, all of New England has now a decriminalized cannabis, as Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell noted on Twitter.

But if you’re trying to celebrate with a bit of cannabis, don’t risk it just yet. Decriminalization doesn’t take effect for 60 days.

Supporters argue that the change will ensure young people’s lives aren’t ruined by getting caught with marijuana. Opponents have argued that decriminalization sends the wrong message as the state battles a drug crisis.

RELATED STORY

How Cannabis Could Turn the Opioid Epidemic Around

The new law makes possessing the cannabis a violation-level offense with a fine of up to $300 for adults. Minors caught with either would be subject to a delinquency petition. Someone can be charged with a misdemeanor, however, if they are found with marijuana for a fourth time within a three-year period.

It also says police cannot arrest someone for a cannabis violation. Any money collected from fines under the law will go into a fund aimed at alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment.

RELATED STORY

MA Speaker: Use Cannabis Taxes to Help Fight Opioid Addiction

In May, Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott vetoed a bill that would have legalized cannabis possession and cultivation in that state. Maine and Massachusetts voters approved legalization in ballot measures last year.

The Associated Press contributed this report.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

New Hampshire Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Gov. Chris Sununu

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu

CONCORD, NH — New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill into law Tuesday that will decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the Granite State.

The new law will officially take effect in 60 days, making New Hampshire the 22nd state in the nation — and the last of the New England states — to eliminate the possibility of jail time for simple marijuana possession.

“The governor deserves credit for his steadfast support of this commonsense reform,” said Matt Simon, the Manchester-based New England political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Unlike his predecessors, who opposed similar proposals, Gov. Sununu appears to understand that ‘Live Free or Die’ is more than just a motto on a license plate.

“A lot of credit also goes to the House, which has been passing decriminalization bills since 2008,” Simon said. “It is refreshing to see the Senate finally come to an agreement with the House on this issue. This is a big step toward a more sensible marijuana policy for New Hampshire.”

HB 640 was introduced by Rep. Renny Cushing and a bipartisan group of co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, where it received overwhelming approval in February (318-36). The Senate amended and approved it on May 11 (17-6), and the House passed the Senate version by a voice vote on June 1.

HB 640 will reduce the penalty for possession of up to three-quarters of an ounce of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor — currently punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 — to a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine for a first or second offense and a $300 fine for a third offense within three years of the first offense. A fourth offense within three years of the first offense could be charged as a class B misdemeanor, but there would be no arrest or possibility of jail time.

“There is no good reason to continue arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana possession,” Simon said. “Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and Granite Staters are ready to see it treated that way. A very strong majority of state residents support ending marijuana prohibition altogether.

“New Hampshire lawmakers should continue to follow their constituents’ lead on this issue,” Simon said. “Every state in New England is either implementing or strongly considering legislation to regulate marijuana for adult use. It is time for the Legislature to develop a realistic marijuana prohibition exit strategy for New Hampshire.”

More than two-thirds of New Hampshire adults (68%) support making marijuana legal, according to a Granite State Poll released last month by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Massachusetts House and Senate Reach Compromise on Marijuana Legalization Implementation Bill

A supporter holds up a “Yes on 4” sign at the 2016 Boston Freedom Rally (Scott Gacek/The Daily Chronic)

BOSTON, MA – After weeks of talks and missed deadlines, legislators in Massachusetts have reached an agreement on legislation that will make changes to Question 4, the law to regulate marijuana for adults that was approved by voters in November 2016.

“After weeks of intense advocacy from Massachusetts voters, legislators have decided to respect the will of the people,” said Matthew Schweich, director of state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of the 2016 campaign. “We are relieved that the legislature has dropped the House’s ‘repeal and replace’ bill introduced last month, which would have made damaging changes to the law.”

The compromise bill’s most significant changes relate to local control and taxes. The legislation adjusts the local control policy, allowing local government officials in towns that voted “no” on the 2016 ballot initiative to ban marijuana businesses until December 2019. For towns that voted “yes” in 2016, any bans must be placed on a local ballot for voters to approve.

The maximum sales tax rate (which depends on whether towns adopt optional local taxes) will increase from 12% to 20%. Under the bill, the state tax will be 17% and the local option will be 3%.

“The law passed by voters was well-crafted and required no alteration,” said Schweich. “However, we respect the need for compromise, and while we don’t approve of every provision of this bill, we are satisfied that the outcome will serve the interests of Massachusetts residents and allow the Commonwealth to displace the unregulated marijuana market with a system of taxation and regulation.”

Last month, the House and Senate passed very different implementation bills before beginning negotiations to resolve their differences.

Massachusetts residents made over 1,000 telephone calls to their lawmakers urging rejection of the House approach, while advocacy organizations put additional pressure on the legislature.

“We commend the Senate for holding the line on a number of important issues,” said Jim Borghesani, spokesperson for the 2016 Yes on 4 campaign and the subsequent advocacy effort to defend the law. “Now it’s time to provide funding that will allow the regulators to establish the rules that will govern marijuana cultivation and sales.”

The progress in Massachusetts will likely add momentum to regional efforts across New England to tax and regulate marijuana for adults.

“Maine is in the process of implementing its marijuana regulation law passed by voters, while legislators in Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut all seriously considered bills to make marijuana legal for adults this year,” said Schweich. “The fact that marijuana sales will begin in Massachusetts in just one year will place added pressure on Rhode Island in particular. If legislators fail to take action, the Ocean State will soon be senselessly forfeiting significant and sorely-needed tax revenue to its neighbor.”

On July 1, Nevada became the fifth state in the nation to establish a regulated marijuana market for adults. Regulated marijuana sales are set to begin in Massachusetts in July 2018.

Tags: , , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Massachusetts High Court: Patient Fired for Medical Marijuana Use Can Sue for Discrimination

BOSTON, MA — Massachusetts’ highest court ruled on Monday that a medical marijuana patient could sue her former employer for discrimination after being fired for testing positive for the substance in a drug test.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rejected the argument made by Advantage Sales and Marketing that the patient, Christina Barbuto, could not sue for discrimination because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, even though it is authorized in Massachusetts.

According to attorneys, Barbuto was fired after her first day on the job because she tested positive for marijuana, for which she was an authorized patient under Massachusetts’ medical marijuana program.

Barbuto’s doctor had certified her for medical marijuana use as an appetite stimulant.  Barbuto suffers from Chron’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome, and suffers from a loss of appetite as a side effect of the two ailments.

In the unanimous 6-0 decision, the court ruled that if a doctor determines that medical marijuana is the most effective treatment for a debilitating condition, employers must make an exemption to their drug policy to provide “reasonable accommodation” to the employee.

“The fact that the employee’s possession of medical marijuana is in violation of federal law does not make it per se unreasonable as an accommodation,” Chief Justice Ralph Gants wrote in the decision.

The court noted that while marijuana is still illegal under federal law, only the employee, not the company, would be at risk for prosecution under federal law for her marijuana use.

“This is the highest court in Massachusetts recognizing that the use of medically prescribed marijuana is just as lawful as the use of any prescribed medication,” said attorney Matthew Fogelman, who represented Barbuto.

Medical marijuana has been authorized in Massachusetts since a 2012 voter approved referendum.  In 2016, voters went one step further, legalizing the adult use of marijuana for anyone 21 years old or older.  Marijuana possession is a decriminalized civil offense for those under 21 who do not possess a medical marijuana authorization.

Medical marijuana advocates hailed the decision, saying the ruling represents a major win for patients rights and could set a precedent for those in other states where medical marijuana is authorized under state law.

“Patients should never have to choose between their heath and their job and for the first time, a court has acknowledged that they shouldn’t have to,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said.

“It is our hope that courts in other jurisdictions begin to apply this same rationale to patients as well as to all adults who are using cannabis responsibly off-the-job in compliance with the laws of their states.”

Tags: , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Massachusetts Lawmakers Reach Marijuana Compromise; Tax Raised to 20%

BOSTON, MA — After weeks of closed-door negotiations, lawmakers in Massachusetts have reached a compromise on changes to the voter-approved law that legalized marijuana in the Bay State.

The changes still need to be ratified by members of both chambers of the state legislature, which is expected later this week.

Instead of a repeal-and-replace bill proposed by the House, the compromise bill reflects an “amend and improve” approach favored by the Senate.

Much of the original ballot measure will remain intact, with the most noticeable change being the tax imposed on retail marijuana sales.

While the changes to the legalization law are not as drastic as originally proposed by the House, the tax rate on recreational cannabis will be raised significantly.

As approved by voters, retail sales of marijuana would be subject to a 3.75% statewide excise tax, combined with the 6.25% state sales tax, making the statewide tax 10%. Local communities were given the option to impose an additional two percent local tax, making the total maximum tax 12%.

The House sought to impose stiff taxes that would have raised this to a 28% minimum tax.

The compromise bill will instead raise the excise tax on marijuana from 3.75% to 10.75%, which will be added on to the state 6.25% sales tax, making the statewide marijuana tax 17%.

The compromise also increases the local tax option from two to three percent, making the statewide maximum tax 20%.

Lawmakers also compromised on the dispute over who has the right to ban or restrict marijuana related businesses. In cities in towns where a majority of voters supported Question 4, a referendum would be required to pass zoning restrictions or ban businesses.

But in the 91 municipalities in the state where a majority of residents voted against the ballot question, a referendum would not be necessary. Instead, a vote by the board of the selectmen or city council could ban marijuana retailers.

Other notable changes in the compromise bill include a provision raising the amount of decriminalized marijuana for minors under 21 from one to two ounces.

The compromise bill also makes cultivation by minors under 21 a civil offense, rather than a criminal one.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.