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  • by NORML May 28, 2020

    Adults who consume cannabis are no more likely to experience injuries at work than are those employees who abstain from the substance, according to the findings of a new literature review published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse.

    A team of researchers affiliated with the University of British Columbia conducted a systematic review of scientific papers assessing any potential links between cannabis use and occupational accidents.

    Investigators determined that most of the existing literature on the subject suffers from poor research designs. Specifically, few studies “employed research designs that ensured that cannabis use preceded the occupational injury outcome.” Others failed to adequately assess or control for confounding variables, such as the concurrent use of alcohol or other psychoactive substances.

    Due to these limitations, authors concluded, “[T]he current body of evidence does not provide sufficient evidence to support the position that cannabis users are at increased risk of occupational injury.”

    Their finding is consistent with that of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine which conducted its own literature review in 2017 and concluded, “There is no or insufficient evidence to support … a statistical association between cannabis use and … occupational accidents or injuries.”

    The study’s publication comes at a time when many local and state officials are re-examining workplace marijuana testing policies. Commenting on this trend, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “Suspicionless marijuana testing never has been an evidence-based policy. Rather, these discriminatory practices are a holdover from the zeitgeist of the 1980s ‘war on drugs.’ But times have changed; attitudes have changed, and in many places, the marijuana laws have changed. It is time for workplace policies to adapt to this new reality.”

    In recent weeks, local lawmakers in several municipalities –- including Rochester, New York and Richmond, Virginia -– have moved to eliminate marijuana screens for certain prospective employees. These moves follow the enactment of similar policy changes in larger cities, such as New York City and Washington, DC.

    Lawmakers in Maine and Nevada have enacted similar, statewide legislation barring certain employers from refusing to hire a worker because he or she tested positive for cannabis on a pre-employment drug screen.

    The abstract of the study, “Systemic review of cannabis use and risk of occupational injury,” appears online here. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace.”

  • by Colt DeMorris, El Paso NORML Executive Director November 19, 2019

    Last week, City Representatives Alexsandra Anello (District 2) and Dr. Sam Morgan (District 4) filed a resolution seeking to implement a Cite and Release program after working closely with members of El Paso NORML and LegalizEP.

    The resolution sought to end arrests for misdemeanor marijuana possession which would include anything under 4 ounces. A Class A misdemeanor is defined as 2 to 4 ounces, while a Class B is under 2 ounces.

    The resolution originally had an item number of 20.5, meaning that it was most likely to be heard after the City Council’s break at noon. Once the regular agenda opened up, Representative Sam Morgan motioned for the item to be brought to the fore-front of the agenda. The motion was seconded and moved up.

    Ten people signed up to speak in support of the resolution. Among those who attended and spoke were State Representative Joe Moody, Assistant District Attorney and candidate for District Attorney, James Montoya, myself in my capacity as El Paso NORML’s Executive Director, Michael Castro from LegalizEP, as well as Michael Short, President of the El Paso Municipal Police Officers Association. Mr. Short was the only one to speak in opposition of the resolution.

    As the resolution was being discussed, Rep. Cissy Lizarraga had reservations about it because she felt that it wasn’t the City Manager’s position to implement the cite and release program, as well as voicing her opinion that the El Paso District Attorney and Chief of Police should be involved and have a say. She firmly stated that she would vote no.

    Representative Henry Rivera, who is a former law enforcement officer himself, cited that the City of El Paso already has a program like this – the First Chance Program. He also echoed Lizarraga’s concerns saying he believes that the Sheriff and Chief of Police should be brought to the table for discussion. Rivera not only stated he would vote no, he also motioned for the resolution to be deleted of the agenda. His motion to deleted was seconded by Lizarraga. The “First Chance” program that Rep. Rivera mentioned only targets those who have never been arrested and have no other charges when the marijuana is found by law enforcement. As State Representative Joe Moody pointed out, the First Offender Program targets the offender. Our cite and release resolution targets the offense.

    Next to speak on the issue was Representative Sam Morgan. As one of the representatives that filed the resolution, he described why he was in support of the resolution, citing fiscal responsibility and over crowding of jails, among other reasons.

    Representative Peter Svarzbein was curious as to how things worked, so he reached out to Joe Moody to ask questions. One thing he wanted clarification on was facts Joe Moody provided regarding the Texas Department of Public Safety policy stating that DPS Troopers are to Cite and Release for misdemeanor marijuana offenses. Rep. Svarzbein highlighted that with DPS already doing cite and release, it is a state wide policy that is already in affect. He also agreed, as with Lizarrage and Rivera, that the Chief of Police and Sheriff should be brought in on the conversation. You could tell that he was in support of the idea of cite and release.

    Representatives Hernandez and Salcido called for more information to be provided, information from jurisdictions that already have cite and release.

    Rep. Salcido motioned for changes to be made to the amendment. The changes were in regard to the wording of the resolution. To not have it voted down or deleted, Salcido motioned to change the language so the resolution didn’t read as to automatically implement cite and release upon the date stated in the resolution. Instead, she saved it so it would keep the conversation alive.

    After discussion, you can tell that a majority supported the idea of cite and release but most of them wanted more information on how the program works and statistics showing what the program does.

    After all of those from the public and signed up, and Council finished saying what they had to say, the two motions had to be voted on. The first motion, as they go in order, was Rivera’s Motion to Delete. The vote came back 2 – 6, with Reps. Rivera and Lizarraga being the 2 yes votes to delete the item from the agenda. The rest of the 6 council members voted no to the deletion.

    Following that vote, they voted on the Motion by Salcido that amended the language as to not actually implement a program, but to show support on implementing a cite and release program once they have researched and gathered information from other jurisdictions. The vote came back 6 – 2, with the only no votes of representatives not in support was again from Rivera and Lizarraga. The resolution passed.

    With the passage of this resolution, it say that El Paso City Council is ready for a discussion on ending arrests of those in El Paso that possess marijuana that would be considered a misdemeanor; anything under 4 ounces.

    The resolution, research and implementation of a cite and release program will be followed up at a council meeting suspected to be shortly after the new year. El Paso isn’t in the clear just yet.

    This is major news coming out of the city where prohibition started in 1915, 22 years before the federal prohibition. We’re doing it, we are ending prohibition where it started.

  • by NORML September 5, 2019

    District council members have enacted legislation — Act Number A23-0114: The Medical Marijuana Program Patient Employment Protection Temporary Amendment Act — to protect qualified patients from workplace discrimination.

    The Act states, “A public employer may not refuse to hire, terminate from employment, penalize, fail to promote, or otherwise take adverse employment action against an individual based upon the individual’s status as a qualifying [medical cannabis] patient unless the individual used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana at the individual’s place of employment or during the hours of employment.”

    It further states, “A qualifying patient’s failure to pass a public employer-administered drug test for marijuana components or metabolites may not be used as a basis for employment-related decisions unless reasonable suspicion exists that the qualified patients was impaired by marijuana at the qualifying patient’s place of employment or during hours of employment.”

    The law does not apply to either employees in “safety sensitive positions” or to those who are required to undergo drug testing as a federal requirement.

    Council members voted 12 to zero in favor of the proposal. Mayor Muriel Bowser did not sign the measure.

    Like all District legislation, the act must undergo a 30-day Congressional review prior to taking effect.

    Commenting on the Act, NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said: “Employment protections are critical to ensure that law-abiding adults are not unduly discriminated against in their efforts to be productive members of society solely because of their use of medical cannabis while away from the job. The enactment of this law will provide clarity to employers and peace of mind to the employees who work in the District of Columbia.”

    To date, 15 states provide workplace protections for medical cannabis patients. Two states, Maine and Nevada, provide limit certain non-safety sensitive employers from taking punitive actions against any adult who uses cannabis while off the job.

    Read the full text of the Act here.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director July 26, 2019

    The City of Jacksonville, Florida could join a growing list of cities around the country that have embraced a more pragmatic approach for dealing with marijuana-related offenses on the local level. Currently more than a dozen Florida municipalities have decriminalized the possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana including: Alachua County, Broward County, Cocoa Beach, Hallandale Beach, Key West, Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, Orlando, Osceola County, Palm Beach County, Port Richey, Tampa, Volusia County, and West Palm Beach County.

    Jacksonville Residents Click Here to Send a Message to your Council Representatives 

    Citing concerns about the collateral consequences of a marijuana charge and the disproportionate impact marijuana prohibition continues to have on communities of color, Council Member Garrett Dennis recently introduced the, “Jacksonville Civil Citation for Small Quantity Marijuana Possession Ordinance.” If approved, the ordinance would impose a $100 fine for possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana instead of jail time. 

    “During my reelection campaign, I spoke to many citizens whose lives were thrown into a downward spiral due to possessing minimal amounts of marijuana. Families were in debt because of legal issues, loss of employment or the inability to secure gainful employment; based on these misdemeanor arrests,” said Council Member Dennis. 

    Read more from First Coast News

    To support this effort, Council Member Dennis has announced a series of community meetings. Each meeting is free to attend and open to the public. 

    Date:  Saturday, July 27, 2019                                         

    Time: 10:30 a.m.

    Location: South Mandarin Library, 12125 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32223

    Date: Monday, July 29, 2019

    Time: 6:00 p.m.

    Location: Bennie Furlong Senior Center, 281 19th Ave S, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

    Date: Tuesday, July 30, 2019    

    Time: 6:00 p.m.

    Location: Legends Center, 5130 Soutel Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32208

    Date: Monday, August 5, 2019  

    Time: 6:30 p.m.

    Location: Webb Wesconnett Library, 6887 103rd Street, Jacksonville, FL 32210

    Click Here to Review NORML’s Decriminalization Report

           Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow NORML on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and become a member today!

                                                                                                                              

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 14, 2019

    Marijuana HempMembers of the Cincinnati City Council have voted in favor of a municipal measure eliminating criminal and civil penalties for marijuana possession. The new local law takes effect on July 12.

    Under the ordinance, activities involving the possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana will no longer be subject to local penalties. Cincinnati is one of a growing number of Ohio municipalities, including Athens and Toledo, to eliminate marijuana possession penalties.

    The Council is also expected to vote imminently on a separate ordinance facilitating the expungement of prior marijuana possession convictions.

    Under state law, the possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis is classified as a minor misdemeanor offense.

    Additional information is available in the NORML report, Local Decriminalization, online here.

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