Please find below a recent memo from Florida Attorney General’s office rejecting activist’s petition to reschedule marijuana for medical access. This is notable because Florida is a top five political bellwether state, with an aging population, NORML receives more requests from Florida residents than anywhere else in the country to reform local medical cannabis laws.
Unfortunately, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office has rejected a petition from the Cannabis Action Network to reschedule cannabis so that sick, dying and sense-threatened medical patients with a doctor’s recommendation can possess and use it legally. As often is the case at the state level, the Attorney General is deferring to federal laws and Congressional intent.
STATE OF FLORIDA
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Administrative Law Bureau
Edward A. Tellechea
Chief Assistant Attorney General
PL-01, The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050
Phone (850) 414-3300
Fax (850) 922-6425
December 12, 2012
Director, Cannabis Action Network
Thank you for your petition wherein you request that the Attorney
General temporarily reschedule cannabis. I have been asked to
respond on the Attorney General’s behalf.
Section 893.0355, Florida Statutes, delegates to the Attorney
General the authority to temporarily reschedule controlled
substances set forth in Section 893.03(1), Florida Statutes, by rule
and addresses what factors shall be considered when making such a
determination. The statute reads in part as follows:
(3) In making the public interest determination, the Attorney
General shall give great weight to the scheduling rules adopted by
the United States Attorney General subsequent to such substances
being listed in Schedules I, II, III, IV, and V hereof, to achieve
the original legislative purpose of the Florida Comprehensive Drug
Abuse Prevention and Control Act of maintaining uniformity between
the laws of Florida and the laws of the United States with respect
to controlled substances.
The above quoted statutory language makes it very clear that when
determining whether a controlled substance should be rescheduled the
Attorney General must give great weight to the current drug
scheduling under federal law. In addition, Florida law also strongly
encourages uniformity in Florida and federal drug scheduling.
The Attorney General does not believe that it is in the best
interest of the public for her to use her authority to temporarily
reschedule cannabis, particularly given the legislative preference
for uniformity with federal drug laws and the fact that cannabis
remains a Schedule I drug under federal law.
Edward A. Tellechea
Chief Assistant Attorney General
Three quarters of medical cannabis consumers report using it as a substitute for prescription drugs, alcohol, or some other illicit substance, according to survey data published in the journal Addiction Research and Theory.
An international team of investigators from Canada and the United States assessed the subjective impact of marijuana on the use of licit and illicit substances via self-report in a cohort of 404 medical cannabis patients recruited from four dispensaries in British Columbia, Canada.
Researchers reported that subjects frequently substituted cannabis for other substances, including conventional pharmaceuticals. Authors reported:
“Over 41 percent state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (n=158), 36.1 percent use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances (n=137), and 67.8 percent use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (n=259). The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are ‘less withdrawal’ (67.7 percent), ‘fewer side-effects’ (60.4 percent), and ‘better symptom management’ suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen.”
Overall, 75.5 percent (n=305) of respondents said that they substitute cannabis for at least one other substance. Men were more likely than women to report substituting cannabis for alcohol or illicit drugs.
Authors concluded: “While some studies have found that a small percentage of the general population that uses cannabis may develop a dependence on this substance, a growing body of research on cannabis-related substitution suggests that for many patients cannabis is not only an effective medicine, but also a potential exit drug to problematic substance use. Given the credible biological, social and psychological mechanisms behind these results, and the associated potential to decrease personal suffering and the personal and social costs associated with addiction, further research appears to be justified on both economic and ethical grounds. Clinical trials with those who have had poor outcomes with conventional psychological or pharmacological addiction therapies could be a good starting point to further our under- standing of cannabis-based substitution effect.”
Previous studies have similarly demonstrated cannabis’ potential efficacy as an exit drug. A 2010 study published in the Harm Reduction Journal reported that cannabis-using adults enrolled in substance abuse treatment programs fared equally or better than nonusers in various outcome categories, including treatment completion. A 2009 study reported that 40 percent of subjects attending a California medical cannabis dispensary reported using marijuana as a substitute for alcohol, and 26 percent used it to replace their former use of more potent illegal drugs. A separate 2009 study published in the American Journal on Addictions reported that moderate cannabis use and improved retention in naltrexone treatment among opiate-dependent subjects in a New York state inpatient detoxification program.
Full text of the study, “Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients,” appears online in Addiction Research and Theory. NORML Advisory Board Member Mitch Earleywine is a co-author of this study.
Electronic Freedom Foundation board member and drug policy reform activist John Gilmore memo:
EFF.ORG (where I’m on the board) filed a Freedom of Information request to FAA about “drones” (Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS’s).
It’s taken the FAA a long time to release info; they sent us another batch recently. This includes several thousand pages of drone authorizations for law enforcement agencies, universities, and the military.
View EFF-created map of law enforcement ‘drone’ projects here.
Once again, we see in these records that law enforcement agencies want to use drones to support a whole host of police work. However, many of the agencies are most interested in using drones in drug investigations. For example, the Queen Anne County, Maryland Sheriff’s Department, which is partnering with the federal Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and the Navy, applied for a drone license to search farm fields for pot,”surveil people of interest” (including “watching open drug market transactions before initiating an arrest”), and to perform “aerial observation of houses when serving warrants.”
The Gadsden Alabama Police Department also wanted to use its drone for drug enforcement purposes like conducting covert surveillance of drug transactions, while Montgomery County, Texas wanted to use the camera and “FLIR systems” (thermal imaging) on its ShadowHawk drone to support SWAT and narcotics operations by providing “real time area surveillance of the target during high risk operations.” Another Texas law enforcement agency-the Arlington Police Department-also wanted to fly its “Leptron Avenger” drone for narcotics and police missions. Interestingly, the Leptron Avenger can be outfitted with LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology. While LIDAR can be used to create high-resolution images of the earth’s surface, it is also used in high tech police speed guns-begging the question of whether drones will soon be used for minor traffic violations.
More disturbing than these proposed uses is the fact that some law enforcement agencies, like the Orange County, Florida Sheriff’s Department and Mesa County, Colorado Sheriff, have chosen arbitrarily to withhold some or-in Orange County’s case-almost all information about their drone flights-including what type of drone they’re flying, where they’re flying it, and what they want to use it for-claiming that releasing this information would pose a threat to police work. This risk seems extremely far-fetched, given that other agencies mentioned above and in prior posts have been forthcoming and that even the US Air Force feels comfortable releasing information about where it’s flying drones around the country.
EFF news release and links found here.
This past weekend, National NORML, with the help of its Tennessee affiliate hosted the first NORML Southeastern Regional Conference. NORML representatives from several southeastern states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia met to discuss strategy for legalizing marijuana across the region. This southern coalition met in Nashville with members of NORML’s National board and leaders in the cannabis reform movement.
The event was a great success with informative speakers and an energized, engaged audience. The conference opened with a special statement from US Representative Cohen who was “sorry [he] couldn’t be there in person,” but wanted to extend his personal support and commitment to our cause.
Speakers included NORML board members Greta Gaines and Paul Kuhn, Chris Butts and Ron Crumption from the Alabama Medical Marijuana Coalition, public health epidemiologist (and victim of prohibition) Bernie Ellis and Texas NORML board member Cheyanne Weldon. They covered a multitude of topics ranging from the utility of hemp, medical marijuana research, lobbying and public education. There was also a workshop on team management based on the New Organizing Institute’s development training seminars.
[North Carolina NORML put together a fantastic roundup of content and information from the conference. Click here to see their report.] That evening, the Douglas Corner Café hosted a successful fundraiser featuring local musicians Tish Lindsey, Don Ray, Greta Gaines, Chuck Foster and Daniel Lawrence Walker. Invariably, the Southeast has some of the most draconian marijuana laws, and the lowest level of support for reform in the United States. This conference and subsequent events will help reformers lay the groundwork for education and effective activism in the most politically conservative region in the country.
If you don’t live in the Southeast, do not fret! NORML Regional Conferences will be coming to your area of the country soon.
Up next: NORML’s First Northeastern Regional Conference in Philadelphia. Stay tuned to norml.org for more info in the coming weeks.
A majority of Americans are now demanding we reassess our cannabis policies. As I argue in The Seattle Times, this reassessment should also include amending employers’ policies that sanction workers’ off-the-job use of marijuana.
It’s time for employers to rethink marijuana, drug-testing policies
via The Seattle Times
Voters have declared that it is time to rethink our marijuana policies. It’s also time to rethink the practice of drug testing for pot.
The enactment of Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana use in Washington state, is an ideal opportunity for employers to re-examine their drug-testing policies regarding employees’ off the job cannabis use. Those who consume alcohol legally and responsibly while off the job do not suffer sanctions from their employers unless their work performance is adversely affected. Employers should treat those Washingtonians who consume cannabis legally while away from the workplace similarly.
Programs that mandate the random testing of employees’ urine for alleged traces of drug residue are invasive and ineffective. They neither identify workers’ who may be impaired nor do they contribute to a safe work environment.
… A positive test result for carboxy THC, marijuana’s primary metabolite, provides little if any substantive information to employers. That is because carboxy THC, unlike most other drug metabolites, is fat-soluble and may remain detectable in urine for days, weeks or, in some rare cases, months after a person has ceased using cannabis. Most other common drug metabolites are water soluble and therefore undetectable some 24 hours or so after ingestion.
In short, a positive test result for cannabis does not provide any definitive information regarding an employee’s frequency of cannabis use, when he or she last consumed it, or whether he or she may have been under the influence of the substance at the time the drug screening was administered.
… Writing in the journal Addiction, investigators at the University of Victoria in British Columbia reviewed 20 years of published literature pertaining to the efficacy of workplace drug testing, with a special emphasis on marijuana. “[I]t is not clear that heavy cannabis users represent a meaningful job safety risk unless using before work or on the job,” they concluded. “Urinalysis testing is not recommended as a diagnostic tool to identify employees who represent a job safety risk from cannabis use.”
So why are Washington employers still engaging in it?
Read the entire text of the op/ed here.