Obama says marijuana should be treated like ‘cigarettes or alcohol’

By Christopher Ingraham November 30 at 12:33 PM

 

In an “exit interview” with Rolling Stone magazine, President Obama said that marijuana use should be treated as a public-health issue similar to tobacco or alcohol and called the current patchwork of state and federal laws regarding the drug “untenable.”

“Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse,” Obama said. “And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.”

Obama has made comments to this effect before. In a 2014 interview with the New Yorker magazine he said that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” More recently, he told TV host Bill Maher, “I think we’re going to have to have a more serious conversation about how we are treating marijuana and our drug laws generally.”

In the Rolling Stone interview published this week, Obama also reiterated his long-standing position that changing federal marijuana laws is not something the president can do unilaterally. “Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict,” he said, “but are done either legislatively or through the DEA. As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently turned down a petition to lessen federal restrictions on marijuana, citing the drug’s lack of “accepted medical use” and its “high potential for abuse.” Congress could resolve the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws by amending the federal Controlled Substances Act, but it has declined to do so.

Marijuana legalization advocates have been frustrated at what they see as Obama’s unwillingness to use his bully pulpit to advocate for their cause. “It would have been very helpful if he had taken more concrete positive action on this issue before it was almost time to vacate the Oval Office,” Tom Angell of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority said in a statement. “That this president didn’t apply pressure on the DEA to reschedule marijuana this year will likely go down as one of the biggest disappointments of the Obama era.”

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There is little disagreement on either side of the legalization debate that personal marijuana use should be treated primarily as a public-health issue. Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the nation’s leading anti-legalization group, says that it “seeks to establish a rational policy” for marijuana use and possession that “no longer relies only on the criminal justice system to address people whose only crime is smoking or possessing a small amount of marijuana.”

But there is vehement disagreement over what such a “rational policy” would look like. SAM advocates for a policy of decriminalization of marijuana use, but not full-scale commercial legalization. Groups like the Marijuana Policy Project, on the other hand, are pushing for the creation of Colorado-style commercial marketplaces where it is completely legal to buy, sell and consume marijuana.

Obama has been hesitant throughout his second term to push for one approach or the other. His Justice Department has created a policy explicitly allowing states to legalize marijuana as they see fit, but he has made no effort to alter the strict federal prohibition on marijuana that complicates any effort to create a legal nationwide marijuana industry.

Pro-legalization advocates are worried that the current Justice Department policy of noninterference on marijuana legalization could be reversed by an incoming Trump administration stocked with harsh critics of such legalization. Trump himself has said that the matter should be left up to the states.

In the Rolling Stone interview, Obama hinted that he may be more vocal on the issue once he leaves office. “I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go” on marijuana, he said.

CONTINUE READING…

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Health care refugees: Medical marijuana and new hope

By Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent
Video produced by John Bonifield, CNN

Updated 12:16 PM ET, Mon November 28, 2016

Paramedics transport Abby Muszynski to the air ambulance that will fly her from Florida to Colorado.

 

This is the second part of a series on health care refugees. Read the first part here.

(CNN)Rich and Kim Muszynski know when their 5-year-old daughter, Abby, is about to have a grand mal seizure because her pupils enlarge, and she’ll seem to fixate at something in the distance that only she can see.

Then it starts. Abby’s extremities shake. She gasps for air.

By the time she turned 3, Abby had tried about eight different anti-seizure medications. None of them worked very well. Panicked to see their daughter getting worse and worse, the Muszynskis drove three hours to Orlando to see Dr. Ngoc Minh Le, a board certified pediatric neurologist and epileptologist.

Le told them that chances of another anti-seizure drug working on Abby were tiny. He recommended medical marijuana. The timing was right: Just months before, Gov. Rick Scott had legalized the use of a type of non-euphoric cannabis called Charlotte’s Web.

The formulation had been a miracle for a little girl with epilepsy named Charlotte Figi. The Muszynskis had seen her story on Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s CNN documentary “Weed.”

Charlotte’s Web did help Abby, but not as much as it had helped Charlotte. She still was having about two grand mal seizures a week, each lasting about eight to 10 minutes.

Le explained to Kim and Rich that Charlotte’s Web has only tiny amounts of THC, one of the psychoactive ingredients in marijuana. Medical marijuana with higher levels of THC was Abby’s best hope, he told them.

But at this point, in 2015, high-THC marijuana wasn’t legal in Florida for Abby. To get it, the Muszynskis would have to move, leaving behind their friends and family, including two older children.

    Kim thought about Colorado, where Charlotte Figi lived. She’d checked with parents of disabled children there, and they told her the state had a fair and efficient Medicaid program.

    Getting to Colorado would be a challenge: Abby’s doctors said it wasn’t safe for her to fly on a commercial plane or to take a long car ride across the country.

    The Muszynskis began their final fight with Florida Medicaid — one that would leave Kim and Abby homeless for several days.

    Kim says that in mid-August, she started talking to Medicaid officials about getting an air ambulance to Colorado. On September 19, Rich drove the family car out to Colorado. They planned for Kim to attend the closing on their house in Boynton Beach on September 23 and leave on the air ambulance with Abby that afternoon.

    Kim had emailed and spoken with various Florida officials, and it seemed to her that everything was in order. “Please give a call today so we can finalize travel arrangements!” Mary Joyce, a senior registered nurse supervisor at Children’s Medical Services at the Florida Department of Health, wrote in an email to Kim on September 20.

    But then several days passed, and there was still no final approval for the transport.

    Their house sold, Kim and Abby were homeless. They moved in with Kim’s best friend and her husband. All of Abby’s equipment, like her bed with guardrails, was with Rich on their way to Colorado. Kim slept with Abby on the floor.

    Abby’s cries at night kept Kim’s friends awake. Kim wrote emails begging Florida officials for help. But for the first time, she added someone not previously included on the email: this CNN reporter.

    Three days later, she learned that the transport had been approved.

      A spokeswoman for Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration gave this statement:

      In this case relocation services are not covered by Medicaid, per federal Medicaid guidelines. However, thanks to Safety Net funds made available by Governor Scott and the Legislature, the state supported this family by covering the costs to provide relocation services via the air ambulance of the mother’s choice. Working with the family, the state arranged transport as quickly as possible,” wrote the spokeswoman, Mallory McManus.

      CONTINUE READING STORY HERE!

      Class-action suit challenges constitutionality of civil forfeiture

      Fatima Hussein , IndyStar 10:17 p.m. EST November 27, 2016

       

      Criminal defense attorney Jeff Cardella wears his beliefs on his sleeve, in the form of a pair of large, pastel yellow “Don’t Tread On Me” cuff links.

      In between explanations of his libertarian principles, the 34-year-old Cardella  said his clients may not always be the most sympathetic individuals, but they deserve their rights, too.

      Cardella filed a federal class-action lawsuit this month, on behalf of Leroy Washington, whose vehicle was taken by police in September. Washington was arrested and charged with resisting law enforcement, dealing in marijuana and obstruction of justice.

      The suit argues that the Indiana law that allows police to seize property from alleged drug dealers and others, regardless of their guilt or innocence, violates criminal defendants’ constitutional right to due process.

      It “allows the executive branch to seize and hold the vehicle of an owner for several months without affording the owner the right to a postseizure preforfeiture hearing to challenge the seizure,” according to the complaint.

      It’s an argument that could, if it prevails in court, have a sweeping effect on law enforcement.

      Criminal defense attorney Jeff Cardella stands in front

      Criminal defense attorney Jeff Cardella stands in front of the Justice Statue at the Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. (Photo: Michelle Pemberton / IndyStar)

      According to Justice Department data, Indiana State Police seized more than $2.2 million in personal property from Indiana residents in 2014. In Marion County, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department seized roughly $48,022 in personal property that year, according to the data.

      The suit, limited specifically to vehicles in IMPD possession, does not seek monetary damages. Rather, Washington wants law enforcement to give back his vehicle, and the vehicles of countless individuals whose property was seized under Indiana’s civil forfeiture laws.

      Cardella also seeks a reduction in the period of time law enforcement can hold property without stating a reason for seizing it.

      “It’s a matter of protecting the constitutional rights of my clients,” said Cardella, a professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, who is vehemently opposed to “unjust government taking.”

      Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, Mayor Joe Hogsett and IMPD Police Chief Troy Riggs are named defendants in the complaint.

      Curry told IndyStar that there are a variety of reasons why the law, as it exists today, is reasonable and constitutional.

      “There are protections built in the law to protect innocent people,” Curry said. “An aggrieved party could ask for an emergency hearing to get their property back.”

      However, experts and civil libertarians such as Cardella argue that civil forfeiture laws may be due for U.S. Supreme Court review.

      Civil forfeiture around the country

      Today, all states allow for forfeiture and there are more than 400 federal forfeiture statutes. Legal opinions written on the matter show an inconsistency as to what is and is not a violation of an individual’s property rights.

      On a federal level, writing for a six-justice majority in Kaley v. United States, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan stated that a criminal defendant indicted by a grand jury has essentially no right to challenge the forfeiture of her assets, even if the defendant needs those very assets to pay lawyers to defend her at trial.

      The dissenters in the case were strange bedfellows, ranging from traditionally conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and the more liberal Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

      There is also room for interpretation at the state level.

      In Indiana, former Chief Justice Randall Shepard, who wrote the Supreme Court ruling in another civil forfeiture case, said criticisms of asset seizure may be legitimate in some places. But instances vary from one jurisdiction to another. “There are places where it’s used more forcefully than most people would think is appropriate,” Shepard said.

      Because the process is characterized as “civil forfeiture” rather than “criminal forfeiture,” he said, property can be taken regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused party, which raises concerns.

      “The relative ease of effecting such forfeiture and the disposition of the assets have become a matter of public note,” Shepard wrote.

      Washington, through Cardella, argues that the length of time that police have to possess individuals’ property unduly burdens property owners.

      Under Indiana law, the executive branch can hold a vehicle for up to six months. If the state decides to file a forfeiture claim against the vehicle within the first 180 days, the vehicle is held indefinitely until the case is concluded, which can often be several additional months, according to court documents. ​

      “I think there is a widespread misunderstanding (that civil forfeiture) is not a unilateral act,” Curry told IndyStar. He explained that most of individuals whose property is seized are drug dealers and the like.

      However, case law throughout the country suggests that Indiana’s laws — when it comes to the length of time that law enforcement can hold onto a vehicle — may be unconstitutional.

      In a 2002 U.S. Court of Appeals opinion authored by Sotomayor, the court held that the Constitution demanded a speedy process to determine whether the government was likely to win the forfeiture claim.

      In the case, Krimstock v. Kelly, three automobile owners challenged a New York City policy that allowed the city to seize motor vehicles from individuals accused of certain crimes involving motor vehicles and then to hold the vehicles — sometimes for years — in hopes of gaining title in civil forfeiture proceedings.

      The U.S. Supreme Court has passed on making a substantive ruling on civil forfeiture matters, specifically pertaining to vehicles.

      INDIANAPOLIS STAR

      In some cases, police seize cars, homes — with no charges filed

      Challenges coming from all sides

      And Cardella’s isn’t the only suit challenging Indiana’s statute.

      Sam Gedge, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, a libertarian nonprofit based in Arlington, Va., filed a lawsuit in February (Jeana M. Horner, Dennis Jack Horner, et al. v. Terry R. Curry, Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, et al.) in Marion Superior Court charging the IMPD and prosecutors with violating the Indiana Constitution by not forwarding all civil forfeiture proceeds to the state’s common school fund.

      Instead, the county is keeping 100 percent of the money in a “policing for profit” scheme, the institute said.

      INDIANAPOLIS STAR

      Indy civil forfeiture lawsuit will proceed

      The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department divvy up all the money received from civil forfeitures based on a 30/70 split, according to the lawsuit.

      The case has yet to be decided.

      Regarding Washington and Cardella’s lawsuit, Gedge said, “There are two fundamental problems which make it a serious assault on property rights: It allows law enforcement to seize property, that’s ripe for abuse. And what makes the process more pernicious, (is that law enforcement) is seizing a direct stake in property.”

      Cardella, said while it’s not likely that the case will go to the Supreme Court, “I hope it does.”

      Cardella, who lives in a rural area outside of Indianapolis, said he prizes his privacy and freedoms as an American.

      Citing the Join, or Die political cartoon of a snake cut into pieces drawn by Benjamin Franklin in 1754, Cardella believes in the collective power of the people to unite against tyranny and unfairness.

      He sees current civil forfeiture laws as the government’s way of trampling on citizens’ rights.

      “This is the kind of case that made me want to go to law school.”

      CONTINUE READING…

      Army Corps Threatens to Close Oceti Sakowin Camp on December 5th

       

       

       

       

       

       

      SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2016

      Army Corps Threatens to Close Oceti Sakowin Camp on December 5th

      Contacts:
      Dallas Goldtooth, dallas@ienearth.org, (507)-412-7609
      Jade Begay, jade@ienearth.org, (505)-699-4791

      Cannon Ball, ND – Today Colonel John W. Henderson of the United States Army Corps sent a letter to Dave Archambault II, the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, stating that on December 5th all lands north of the Cannon Ball River will be closed to the general public. This includes the Oceti Sakowin encampment where nearly eight thousand people are camping to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline. Henderson said, “This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontations between protestors and law enforcement officials.”

      In response to the Army Corps’ letter Chairman Archambault and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stated, “the best way to protect people during the winter, and reduce the risk of conflict between Water Protectors and militarized police, is to deny the easement for the Oahe crossing, and deny it now.”

      The following is a statement from the Indigenous Environmental Network:

      “We stand by our relatives of the Oceti Sakowin and reaffirm their territorial rights set in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. If the Corps wants to keep people safe and prevent further harm, then deny the easement, rescind the permit, order a full Environmental Impact Statement, and send Department of Justice observers. This decision by the Army Corp and the United States is short-sighted and dangerous. We have already seen critical injuries cased by the actions of a militarized law enforcement. We implore President Obama and the White House to take corrective measures and to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline once and for all.”
      At 11:30am CST the Indigenous Environmental Network, Honor the Earth, The International Youth Council, and the Camp of the Sacred Stones will be holding a press conference at “Media Hill” within the Oceti Sakowin camp. IEN will be live streaming from its facebook page.

      ####

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      Please help support our continued work:

      Reality of Standing Rock

      Published on Nov 22, 2016

      Be a Creative Activist – http://www.jill2016.com/create

      “The mainstream media is lying about what is happening at Standing Rock. As someone who was there, I confirm what the water protectors have been going through. We need water and we are done with big corporations hurting and destroying our environment for financial gain. This is not moral what’s so ever. People do terrible things to each other for money. Our world is being destroyed for money.” #NoDAPL #StandingRock

      Credit: Normadic Sky
      http://www.nomadicskye.com

      Help Support Jill Stein’s people-powered campaign donate $35 https://jillstein.nationbuilder.com/d…

      For more information on Jill Stein for President 2016 and the Green Party’s grassroots 2016 Presidential campaign see
      Website http://www.jill2016.com/
      Twitter https://twitter.com/DrJillStein
      Reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/jillstein/
      Bookface https://www.facebook.com/drjillstein/

      YOUTUBE SOURCE

      WATER PROTECTORS ATTACKED AT BARRICADE

      Contact: Jade Begay, jade@350.org, (505)-699-4791

      Cannon Ball – On November 20th at approximately 6PM CST over 100 Water Protectors from the Oceti Sakowin and Sacred Stone Camps mobilized to a nearby bridge to remove a barricade that was built by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and the State of North Dakota. This barricade, built after law enforcement raided the 1851 treaty camp, not only restricts North Dakota residents from using the 1806 freely but also puts the community of Cannon Ball, the camps, and the Standing Rock Tribe at risk as emergency services are unable to use that highway.
      Water Protectors used a semi-truck to remove two burnt military trucks from the road and were successful at removing one truck from the bridge before police began to attack Water Protectors with tear gas, water canons, mace, rubber bullets, and sound cannons.

      At 1:30am CST the Indigenous Rising Media team acquired an update from the Oceti Sakowin Medic team that nearly 200 people were injured, 12 people were hospitalized for head injuries, and one elder went into cardiac arrest at the front lines. At this time, law enforcement was still firing rubber bullets and the water cannon at Water Protectors. About 500 Water protectors gathered at the peak of the non-violent direct action.

      #NODAPL, #KEEPITINTHEGROUND, #WATERISSACRED

      The following is a statement from the Indigenous Environmental Network:

      “The North Dakota law enforcement are cowards. Those who are hired to protect citizens attacked peaceful water protectors with water cannons in freezing temperatures and targeted their weapons at people’s’ faces and heads.

      The Morton County Sheriff’s Department, the North Dakota State Patrol, and the Governor of North Dakota are committing crimes against humanity. They are accomplices with the Dakota Access Pipeline LLC and its parent company Energy Transfer Partners in a conspiracy to protect the corporation’s illegal activities.

      Anyone investing and bankrolling these companies are accomplices. If President Obama does nothing to stop this inhumane treatment of this country’s original inhabitants, he will become an accomplice. And there is no doubt that President Elect Donald Trump is already an accomplice as he is invested in DAPL”.

      #NODAPL, #KEEPITINTHEGROUND, #WATERISSACRED

      #NODAPL, #KEEPITINTHEGROUND, #WATERISSACRED

      ####

      Photos by Josue Rivas:
      https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B3PUbgj1p268N2tJeG9mUExrXzA


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      Sophia Wilansky was airlifted after being critically injured by a concussion grenade at Standing Rock, ND

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      November 22, 2016

      Contacts:
      Marla Marcum 781-475-0996, marla.marcum@gmail.com;
      Tim DeChristopher 801-362-6941, tim.dechristopher@gmail.com

       

      Boston, MA — Among the Spectra pipeline resisters scheduled to appear in West Roxbury District Court today is 22 year old Sophia Wilansky.  Sophia is one of the Mass Grave 6 defendants, along with Karenna Gore, daughter of former vice-president Al Gore, climate activist Tim DeChristopher, Norah Collins, Dave Publow, and Callista Womick.  Instead of appearing in the West Roxbury District Court, Sophia is in Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she was airlifted after being critically injured by a concussion grenade at Standing Rock, ND. She faces a second surgery today as doctors attempt to save her left arm.

      A press conference is scheduled for noon local time today at Hennepin County Medical Center with a prayer vigil to follow at 4pm.

      #nodapl, #keepitintheground, #waterprotectorsSophia is among the thousands of supporters who have been standing with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to protect their water from the Dakota Access pipeline.  On Sunday night, police and national guard attacked the peaceful water protectors with rubber bullets, pepper spray, water cannons and concussion grenades.  Sofia was hit with a concussion grenade fired by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department. 

      This was the latest assault in an escalated campaign of violence and intimidation by the police against those who have been asserting indigenous and human rights.  Approximately 300 injuries were identified, triaged, assessed and treated by tribal physicians, nurses, paramedics and integrative healers working in collaboration with local emergency response. These 300 injuries were the direct result of excessive force by police over the course of 10 hours. In addition to Sophia’s injury, at least 26 seriously injured people had to be evacuated by ambulance to 3 area hospitals.

       

      Today West Roxbury pipeline resisters, including Sophia’s co-defendants – Karenna Gore, Tim DeChristopher and others – clergy, and other supporters will gather in prayer, song, and solidarity on the courthouse steps at 8:45am before Sophia’s scheduled healing and again after the hearing (end time dependent on proceedings).
      Additional Context from the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council.

      Photos of Sophia: headshot, with West Roxbury pipeline co-defendants on June 29, 2016 (photo credit, Marla Marcum). Sophia appears third from left in this photo.

      In a historic moment of nonviolent resistance, thousands of people calling themselves protectors, not protestors, have gathered in North Dakota, to demand President Obama reject this dirty and dangerous proposal. If constructed, the Dakota Access pipeline would carry fracked oil from North Dakota to Illinois, cutting under the Missouri River less than a mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux’s drinking water supply as well as through the Tribe’s sacred and historical land. This pipeline is a threat to Native heritage, their homes, and will be a climate disaster.

      WHAT: Gathering for Prayer, Song and Solidarity for Sophia Wilansky and 300 other water protectors injured Sunday by police at Standing Rock while peacefully opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline
      WHO: Sophia’s co-defendants, clergy, and other Boston-area pipeline resisters.
      WHEN: 8:45am and again after Sophia’s scheduled hearing (timing uncertain), Tuesday, November 22
      WHERE: West Roxbury District Court, 445 Arborway, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

      ###

      Marijuana backers worry over AG Sessions

      Marijuana backers worry over AG Sessions

      Supporters of liberalizing marijuana laws worry their relationship with the federal government is about to get a lot more contentious as members of the incoming Donald Trump administration signal they will take a harder line on drug policy.

      During the Obama administration, Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch agreed not to enforce some drug laws in states where marijuana is legal. That is likely to change under Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), President-elect Trump’s nominee to become attorney general.

      Sessions is considered one of the staunchest pot opponents in the Senate, a hard-line conservative who once remarked that he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “OK” until he learned members smoked marijuana. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this year, Sessions said he wanted to send a message that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

      “Sessions doesn’t appear to have a very enlightened view about the war on drugs, so that’s somewhat discouraging,” said Pete Holmes, Seattle’s city attorney and one of the driving forces behind Washington’s decision to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

      “When you hear the kind of knee-jerk biases expressed by a guy who will be the nation’s top law enforcement official, it’s scary.”

      Supporters of liberalizing marijuana laws have scored big wins in recent years, as voters in both red and blue states have loosened marijuana laws. After November’s elections, more than half of states will allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and eight states will allow marijuana for recreational purposes. 

      The legal marijuana industry is becoming a billion-dollar boon for businesses and investors and a reliable new source of revenue for cash-poor cities and states. Earlier this month, voters in Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada joined Washington, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

      But marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and pro-pot advocates have maintained an uneasy truce with the Justice Department under President Obama.

      As attorney general, Sessions has a host of options for changing the federal government’s posture toward marijuana.

      He could follow precedent set by Holder and Lynch and let states chart their own path, or, on the other extreme, he could tell governors that any state that issues a license to permit marijuana sales would stand in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. 

      Sessions could revisit the Cole memo, the August 2013 memorandum written to federal prosecutors by then-deputy Attorney General James Cole that lays out the Justice Department’s priorities in prosecuting drug cases. The Cole memo allowed prosecutors to skip cases in states that institute regulatory and enforcement systems to oversee marijuana sales.

      To legal pot opponents, the Cole memo — and other steps the Obama Justice Department has taken — is an abdication of responsibility to implement federal law.

      “We want to see federal law enforced. I think a clear letter asking states to stand down until Congress changes the law makes the most sense, and I think governors in these states would gladly oblige,” said Kevin Sabet, who heads Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group that opposes legalization.

      The debate over marijuana legalization is a proxy, however imperfect, for the larger question of states’ rights.

      Legal marijuana backers say they hope Sessions and Trump let the states experiment as the founders intended.

      Sessions co-sponsored a bill introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) last year that would have allowed states to challenge proposed federal rules under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which reserves rights for the states. That gives some legal marijuana backers at least a glimmer of hope that the incoming administration won’t crack the whip.

      “Voters in 28 states have chosen programs that shift cannabis from the criminal market to highly regulated, tax-paying businesses. Sen. Sessions has long advocated for state sovereignty, and we look forward to working with him to ensure that states’ rights and voter choices on cannabis are respected,” said Aaron Smith, who heads the National Cannabis Industry Association in Denver. 

      But opponents of marijuana liberalization say they see their own encouraging signs that the tide toward legalization may be turning.

      “We’ve all wondered whether the Trump presidency would be ‘states rights’ or ‘law and order’ when it comes to drugs,” Sabet wrote in an email. “The Sessions pick makes many of us think it may be the latter.”

      Even with Sessions overseeing the Justice Department, legal marijuana proponents are likely to continue pursuing liberalization through ballot measures and state legislatures. 

      Marijuana legalization measures are already circulating in Ohio, Texas, Mississippi and Missouri. Legislatures in states like New Jersey, Vermont, Delaware and Rhode Island are likely to take up marijuana legalization bills in upcoming legislative sessions.

      CONTINUE READING…

      Legal Marijuana Poses New Problems For Employee Drug Testing

      Pot is legal in some form in 28 states, but it remains illegal under federal law

      By

      Rachel Emma Silverman

      Nov. 22, 2016 11:00 a.m. ET

      21 COMMENTS

      A raft of new state marijuana legalization laws presents employers with hazy challenges when it comes to workplace drug testing.

      Companies that wish to maintain drug-free workplaces face a confusing patchwork of state and federal laws, and it is a gray area in some states whether employers can fire or discipline workers for pot use, say employment lawyers.

      In California, where medical marijuana is already legal, voters approved recreational pot on Election Day. Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada passed similar measures, while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota legalized or expanded medical marijuana measures. These new laws make pot legal in some form in more than half the country—28 states. Meanwhile, it remains illegal under federal law.

       

      The legal, recreational use of marijuana passed in four states on Tuesday with another three states passed it for medicinal use. Lance Rogers, manager of the cannabis law practice for law firm Greenspoon Marder, explains how Tuesday’s votes could influence efforts to legalize pot in other states. Photo: Getty

      In states like Massachusetts and California, where recreational and medicinal pot use is now legal, employers should tread carefully when testing workers for pot under drug-free workplace policies, says Amanda Baer, an attorney at the Mirick O’Connell law firm in Worcester, Mass. Firing or disciplining a worker for a positive drug test could open firms to legal challenges from employees, she says.

      “No company wants to be the test case,” she says. “If workers are not in a safety-sensitive position, they probably shouldn’t be tested.”

      One concern is that the active ingredient in marijuana can stay in a worker’s body for several days and it may be hard to tell whether employees used the drug off the job or if they are currently under the influence, she says.

      Related stories

      Employers are at risk for liability, however, if workers in safety-sensitive positions are high while operating heavy equipment, driving passenger vehicles or doing other tasks that jeopardize worker safety.

      In either case, employers should make their policies on pot and drug testing clear to workers ahead of time so workers know what to expect, adds Ms. Baer. Firms should also receive legal counsel specific to their state, since the details of marijuana laws vary state by state.

      As pot becomes legal in more states, some employers may also permit on-the-job pot smoking, just as some allow workplace happy hours and beer fridges, according to Ms. Baer. Under Massachusetts’ law, for instance, employers have the right to prohibit or expressly allow on-site marijuana use.

      “If your employer allows it, Pot Fridays could happen,” says Ms. Baer.

      Write to Rachel Emma Silverman at rachel.silverman@wsj.com

      CONTINUE READING…

      SPEAK UP NOW!” AND GET 10,000 COMMENTS IN TO DEA

      Posted by Angela Ross · November 17, 2016

       

       

      WITH 2 WEEKS TO GO: AMERICAN KRATOM ASSOCIATION URGES KRATOM COMMUNITY TO “SPEAK UP NOW!” AND GET 10,000 COMMENTS IN TO DEA

      KratomComments.org Generates 3,000+ of 5,400 Comments Received So Far

      WASHINGTON, D.C.///November 17, 2016///
      With exactly two weeks to go before the December 1st end to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Agency (DEA) comment period on kratom, the American Kratom Association (AKA) is seeking today to rally the kratom community to double the number of comments on file from the current level of about 5400 to at least 10,000.
      AKA created the www.KratomComments.org website in October 2016 to make it easier for consumers to submit their comments to the DEA.  As of noon EST Wednesday, the AKA website had been used to contribute 3,037 of the 5,376 comments logged by the DEA – a very strong 56 percent of the total.
      AKA is working hard to get as many people as possible who have benefited from kratom to share their opposition to the classification of the coffee-like herb as a Schedule I drug.  

      American Kratom Association Director Susan Ash said: “Today, we are telling the kratom community that it’s now or never.  This is it.  We only have two weeks left to be heard.  We know there are tens of thousands of YouTube videos on this topic and that more than 140,000 people signed the White House petition on kratom.  We need to hear from those people now.  I am personally appealing to those of you who know kratom to take the time to go to KratomComments.org and speak out today.”

      Read more

      http://www.americankratom.org/press_releases?utm_campaign=pr_comments&utm_medium=email&utm_source=americankratomassociation