Archives for June, 2014

Don’t Get Fooled By Medical Marijuana Scams!

It is often said that Florida is a sunny place for shady people.  Unfortunately, our state has been home to every type of scammer, con-man and snakeoil salesmen imaginable.

So, it should come as no surprise that the medical marijuana “Green Rush” is bringing all types of questionable opportunities out of the woodwork.  In order to warn people of these pitfalls, FCC’s Norm Kent has authored an article in today’s Sun Sentinel pointing out some of the questionable activity that has sprung up since Amendment 2 was announced.

A few examples include:

  • Attorneys who are offering certifications of medical necessity that have no binding effect on police or prosecutors;
  • Physicians who are pre-certifying patients as qualifying for medical marijuana when no guidelines for such certifications have even been adopted;
  • Businessmen who are taking large deposits on “medical marijuana franchises” long before the ability to acquire license for those franchises is even known; and
  • Real Estate Agents who are offering land “perfect for growing marijuana” without a clue as to whether that land will be able to be licensed or zoned for that use.

Make sure you read Norm’s entire article on the Sun-Sentinel site by CLICKING HERE.

Avoiding scams is crucial for people interested in entering the medical marijuana industry and is yet another reason to have an experienced consultant by your side.

 

The Pope Says No To Dope

The decline of cannabis prohibition is spreading like wildfire.  More and more states are allowing medical and recreational use and public acceptance of legal marijuana is at an all time high (no pun intended).  But, unfortunately, that new level of tolerance hasn’t reached behind the doors of the Vatican.

Pope Francis recently spoke at a conference for drug enforcement agents in Rome and lashed out at the legalization of drugs, including cannabis.  The Pope urged his audience to say no to drugs and to “say ‘yes’ to life, ‘yes’ to love, ‘yes’ to others, ‘yes’ to education, ‘yes’ to greater job opportunities. If we say ‘yes’ to all these things, there will be no room for illicit drugs, for alcohol abuse, for other forms of addiction.”

Apparently, the Pope made no mention in his speech of the use of alcohol as a sacrament in his church or that time Jesus turned water into wine.

He also didn’t mention the thousands of people who are now receiving cannabis medically and who have had their suffering relieved.  He didn’t mention glaucoma sufferers who have saved their failing eyesight.  Nor did he mention the people afflicted with cancer and HIV who have regained their appetites and fought nausea and wasting syndrome by using medical marijuana.

The Pope also forgot to mention the thousands of people who languish in prisons around the world, wasting their precious days on earth locked up like animals merely because they possessed cannabis.  He never spoke of the careers that have been ruined over failed drug tests and the communities that have been ravaged by the creation of narcotic black markets and the criminal element that follows.

To put it simply, the Pope is wrong.  Cannabis is not “evil” as he suggested in his speech.  The true evil is found in the way that cannabis consumers are treated by the government, the police and even the church.  It’s time for the Pope to join the 21st century and change his position on pot.

Gov. Rick Scott Signs Charlotte’s Web Bill Into Law

The Charlotte’s Web Bill has finally completed it’s journey through the approval process and has landed on the desk of Governor Rick Scott.  As he promised, Gov. Scott has signed the bill making it the law of the land in Florida.

The Charlotte’s Web Bill is far from perfect (as was pointed out in an earlier posting here) and there still remains much work to be done to reform the laws governing medical marijuana in our state.  However, the enactment of this new law signifies yet another crack in the wall that separates patients from their medicine.

 

Why is a Billionaire Gambling Tycoon Pumping Money into Florida’s Anti-Marijuana Crusade?

Sheldon Adelson is #9 on the Forbes list of the richest people in the world.  He is estimated to be worth over $36 billion dollars.  He has made his fortune from running glitzy casinos (apparently all of those quarters dropped in slot machines really add up).  He also just became the largest donor to the anti-medical marijuana campaign in the State of Florida by dropping $2.5 million into the hands of Drug Free Florida, an organization that wants to keep patients from accessing the medicine they need.

What makes this situation unusual is the fact that Mr. Adelson has actually funded research into the medical benefits of cannabis in the past.  The Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases at Tel Aviv University conducted a study which concluded that marijuana can potentially help those suffering from brain injuries and degenerative diseases such as MS and Parkinson’s.

So, why would an 80 year old billionaire from Las Vegas who has funded medical marijuana research care enough about patients receiving medical pot in Florida to pour money into fighting Amendment 2?

It appears the answer to this question may lie in Mr. Adelson’s desire to expand his gambling empire into the State of Florida.  Because the medical marijuana campaign in Florida is intertwined with the battle for the governorship that is raging between Charlie Christ and Rick Scott, it is possible that Mr. Adelson is not so much motivated by his anti-marijuana beliefs, but more by his desire to place himself in a position of political advantage in his quest for casinos in the Sunshine State.

No matter what his motivation, his cash infusion to Drug  Free Florida will certainly result in more anti-marijuana advertising, which will attempt to further spread the misinformation about Amendment 2.  It should serve as a reminder to us all that will we need to remain vigilant in our efforts to get the truth about medical marijuana out to as many people as we can.

DEA Threatens Doctors Over Ties to Marijuana Dispensaries – What Does it Mean for Florida?

Last week, Investigators from the US Drug Enforcement Agency contacted several Massachusetts Doctors who had ties to Medical Marijuana dispensaries in that state.  The message they delivered to the Doctors was clear:  “Sever your connections to marijuana companies or risk losing your federal license to prescribe controlled substances”.  The DEA’s threats now leave Doctors with a difficult choice between being able to provide cannabis to patients who need it and being able to prescribe controlled substances, such as Ambien and Xanax, to patients that may need that treatment as well.

These strong-arm tactics have been employed by the DEA before, most notably in California, where Doctors successfully sued to win the right to recommend medical cannabis for their patients.  However, the current DEA activity in Massachusetts may not be protected by that court ruling because the California Doctors were merely recommending the use of marijuana by patients, while the Massachusetts Doctors are active participants in operating dispensaries.

So, what does this mean for Florida? The first thing that comes to mind is impact it may have on the implementation of the pending Charlotte’s Web law.   That law requires that dispensing organizations have a licensed Doctor on staff.  This would mean that a Doctor would have to be an employee of the dispensing organization and would therefore be involved in its operation.  This is precisely the same type of involvement that has drawn the attention of the DEA in Massachusetts.  If the DEA were to take the same approach to the Charlotte’s Web law in Florida, it could serve as a major obstacle to dispensing organizations in finding qualified physicians to keep on staff.

South Florida Democratic Representative Still Out of Step On Medical Pot

It seems that its getting harder and harder to find a politician that vocally opposes the rights of patients to receive medical marijuana.  This is due in large part to the overwhelming support the issue has seen in recent polling.  Above all else, politicians understand that they need the approval of voters and they are reluctant to take positions at odds with their base.  Which makes it surprising that Debbie Wasserman Schultz,  the Democratic Congresswoman from one of Florida’s most liberal districts (and also the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee) would take a position so at odds with sensible drug reform.

As I detailed in an earlier post, the US House of Representatives recently approved a measure that would prohibit Federal Law Enforcement from interfering with the use and distribution of medical marijuana in states where it is legal.  This proposed law brought the first glimpse of real change at the Federal level and was a positive sign for medical marijuana patients and businesses who currently live with the fear of a Federal crackdown constantly lurking in their minds.

But sadly, Debbie Wasserman Schultz did not join the voices of reason and decided to cast her vote against the proposed law.  She has refused to make an official comment on her vote, but instead hid behind a spokesman who said that the congresswoman preferred not to place restrictions on Federal law enforcement.  But in reality, what Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz did was put the desires of overzealous law enforcement ahead of the needs of sick patients.

This unfortunate vote by a Florida Representative is a reminder that medical cannabis still faces opponents, sometimes even from the liberal side of the political spectrum.  So, if you are in Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s district, let her office know how you feel about her vote … and don’t forget how she voted when you enter the ballot box.

US House of Representatives Votes to Stop Medical Marijuana Raids

The imbalance that currently exists between States that recognize the medical use of cannabis and the Federal Government, which continues to impose an outright prohibition on any use of marijuana, is one that cause stress and consternation amongst both medical marijuana patients and businesses alike.  They find themselves caught between permissive State laws and prohibitive Federal laws.  It’s like driving up to an intersection and seeing both green and red lights illuminated.

This inconsistency not only results in confusion, but it has also resulted in DEA raids on medical marijuana dispensaries that are completely legal under State laws.  In 2005, the United States Supreme Court decided Gonzalez v. Raich, which empowered the Federal Government to ignore the State laws and continue to enforcement of Federal cannabis prohibition, despite the clear will of a particular state’s citizens.

However, the days of marijuana dispensaries looking over their shoulders for DEA agents may be numbered.  The US House of Representatives approved an amendment that calls for an end to Federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries that are operating legally in states that allow them.  This is an encouraging move that shows a tolerant view of medical cannabis is starting to take hold even at the Federal level.  If the House’s amendment is eventually signed into law, the landscape for medical cannabis could change significantly and more mainstream businesses may be less reluctant to enter the field.

Another encouraging aspect of the amendment is that it enjoyed support from both Democrats and Republicans, illustrating that acceptance of medical marijuana is spreading amongst conservatives as well as liberals.  The actions of the House are exactly the direction drug policy reform needs to be headed in and the progress of this amendment is something we should all be following closely.  The bill will still have to pass the Senate and receive the signature of the President before it becomes law, so we shouldn’t throw a victory parade yet.  But things are moving in the right direction.