Tag: Laws

Lawsuit Takes a Big Swing at Prohibition, but Few Give It a Chance

An 11-year-old girl with epilepsy, a disabled military veteran with PTSD, and a former NFL lineman are among those who took aim at cannabis prohibition this week. They’re among the five plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against the federal government on the grounds that the Controlled Substances Act—as it relates to cannabis, at least—violates the US Constitution.

The federal lawsuit, which names Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice, and the Drug Enforcement Administration as defendants, unleashes a smattering of legal arguments against the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and its enforcement. At its core is the assertion that the government’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance—alongside heroin and LSD—is so “irrational” as to be unconstitutional.

“If we win,” Joseph A. Bondy, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told Leafly, “we win the overturning of the federal cannabis law.”

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Even the federal government, the suit alleges, doesn’t believe cannabis qualifies for Schedule I status, which includes drugs that have a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and no means of safe use, even under medical supervision.

“The Federal Government has admitted repeatedly in writing and implemented national policy reflecting that Cannabis does in fact, have medical uses and can be used and tested safely under medical supervision,” says the complaint, filed late Monday in the Southern District of New York. “On that basis, the federal government has exploited cannabis economically for more than a decade by securing a medical cannabis patent and entering into license agreements with medical licensees.”

“This is the tip of the freakin’ iceberg.”

Joseph A. Bondy, lawyer for plaintiffs

Plaintiffs—who also include a six-year-old boy with Leigh disease and the nonprofit Cannabis Cultural Association, which promotes diversity in the cannabis industry—aren’t asking the court to scrap the CSA entirely. Instead, they want to forbid the government from enforcing the portion of the law that applies to cannabis.

The law has harmed each plaintiff in significant ways, the suit alleges. Marvin Washington, a retired defensive end for the New York Jets, says the CSA disqualifies him from receiving grants under the Federal Minority Business Enterprise program. He’s the co-founder of Isodiol, a company with a line of CBD-infused sports products.

The three patients—two minors as well as 34-year-old Army veteran Jose Balen—each claim the CSA has prevented them from traveling freely, whether in an airplane, through states where cannabis remains illegal, or onto a military base.

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The New York-based Cannabis Cultural Association, meanwhile, asserts that the CSA has historically targeted people of color and today hinders their involvement in the legal cannabis industry.

“The Nixon Administration ushered the CSA through Congress and insisted that cannabis be included on Schedule I so that African Americans and war protesters could be raided, prosecuted and incarcerated without identifying the actual and unconstitutional basis for the government’s actions,” the lawsuit says.

“This lawsuit reads like a H.S. student got really excited to write a paper about marijuana.”

Tom Angell, Marijuana Majority

Bondy, one of a team of plaintiffs’ lawyers led by New York litigator Michael Hiller, said that the suit’s claims could conceivably be extended to include discriminatory action against LGBTQ individuals, patients with terminal illnesses, and other potential plaintiffs.

Asked by Leafly whether similar arguments could conceivably be used to challenge federal prohibition of other drugs—many illegal substances have shown signs of medical benefits, and drug laws across the board tend to be enforced disproportionately against people of color—Bondy confirmed they could. “This is the tip of the freakin’ iceberg,” he said.

But while Bondy and others trumpeted the lawsuit after filing it on Monday, some other cannabis activists are unconvinced. Longtime legalization advocate Tom Angell, founder of the advocacy group Marijuana Majority, told Leafly he thinks the suit is “ridiculous.” Shortly after it was filed, he took to Twitter to question its significance.

Angell’s critiques are informed by his experience as longtime cannabis reformer and an eagle-eyed policy observer. And indeed, although the lawsuit’s claims may appeal to common sense, there’s good reason to be skeptical that the suit will succeed in court.

In part that’s because many of its arguments have already been tried. There’s a considerable history of challenges to cannabis prohibition, and it goes without saying that none has succeeded.

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Numerous rescheduling petitions have been launched throughout the years, many of which hinged on similar arguments to those invoked in this week’s lawsuit. Petitioners have included high-profile advocacy groups such as NORML, High Times, then-Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire, and the patient-advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

While the latest action is a federal lawsuit rather than a rescheduling petition, the ASA action gives some indication of how the new challenge may fare. After its rescheduling petition was rejected, ASA filed an appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. The organization argued that the Schedule I classification of cannabis was arbitrary and capricious, contradicted by available scientific evidence. Judges were unmoved, however and the appeal went nowhere. It was the third time that court had considered and rejected a rescheduling request.

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It’s impossible to know for sure how the new lawsuit, Washington et al. v Sessions et al., will be received by the courts. There are plenty examples of courts reaching unexpected conclusions—especially around cannabis. But if this is the court challenge that will end cannabis prohibition in the US, it has an uphill battle before it.

The full text of the complaint is embedded below:


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

On a Boat? Cannabis Is Still Illegal, US Coast Guard Says

Planning on grabbing a vape pen for an afternoon on the water? Rolling a joint for your next fishing trip? Thinking of floating the river with an infused soda in hand? Think again. According to the US Coast Guard, it remains illegal to consume while on a boat in US waters—even if you’re in a state that has legalized cannabis.

State laws around the plant might have changed, District 13 (Seattle) Petty Officer 2nd Class Ali Flockerzi   told Leafly, but federal law still prohibits the production, distribution, possession, and consumption of cannabis.

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That’s true on land, too—cannabis remains illegal under federal law. But in many legal states, you’re more likely to run into a federal agent on a boat than on the sidewalk.

“The Coast Guard enforces federal laws within all navigable waters of the U.S. along with federal partners operating under guidance from the Department of Justice,” Flockerzi said. “If you are boating on open water in Washington State, you come under the jurisdiction of both Washington State and federal law, which is enforced by the Coast Guard.”

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On top of the fact that cannabis itself is federally illegal, it’s also illegal under both state and federal law to operate a boat while under the influence of any substance.

“Operating a boat while under the influence of ANY drugs or alcohol is considered boating under the influence (BUI),” Flockerzi told Leafly. “Boating under the influence is not only unsafe but also illegal in every state, and the Coast Guard and every state have stringent penalties for violating BUI laws.”

A BUI also counts as a prior offense if a person were to be convicted of a DUI.

“Under the DUI sentencing laws, anyone with BUI or reckless boating convictions on their record that is later convicted of a DUI will have the BUI treated as a prior offense,” Flockerzi said. “Making a DUI a prior can dramatically increase penalties for somebody later convicted of DUI, vehicular assault or vehicular homicide.”

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Penalties can include jail time, large fines, suspension, or revocation of boat operator privileges.

The law pertains to the operation of all boats, from canoes to catamarans, and includes foreign vessels that operate in US waters as well as US vessels on the high seas.

And while you may have privacy rights that protect your car from an unwarranted search, the Coast Guard can board your boat at any time—both in US waterways and on the high seas. So if you live aboard a boat, it’s still technically illegal for you to hold cannabis on the boat.

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The Coast Guard Boarding Policy states:

Title 14 Section 89 of the United States Code authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard to board vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, anytime, any place upon the high seas and upon any waterway over which the United States has jurisdiction, to make inquiries, examinations, inspections, searches, seizures, and arrests. The U.S. Coast Guard does not require a warrant to conduct search, seizures, arrests over any United States Waterway or high seas. The U.S. Coast Guard also have full legal law enforcement power on any land under the control of the United States, as needed to complete any mission.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Two Canadians Arrested for Cannabis in China, Leaving a Bushel of Questions

On July 14, two Canadian employees with the Cirque de Soleil-styled equestrian extravaganza Cavalia were arrested and imprisoned in Beijing, after allegedly being found to have consumed marijuana.

Details on the arrests come from a Radio-Canada report, helpfully translated by the CBC: “Chinese police visited a hotel in Beijing where the Cavalia team was staying, and tested them for marijuana use. There were a number of arrests of members of the show’s technical team, including two Quebecers.”

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Speaking to Radio-Canada last Thursday, Cavalia spokesperson Eric Paquette refused to confirm or deny the information, noting only that the employees had unspecified “concerns” with Chinese authorities. He stressed that “It’s very important in our company policy to follow the laws of the country where we produce shows.”

Three days later came news that the two imprisoned Cavalia employees had been freed. In an email sent to the Presse Canadienne Sunday evening, Éric Paquette acknowledged that Chinese authorities had instructed Cavalia to buy airline tickets for the pair, and confirmed “the two individuals have already arrived in Canada,” reports the Montreal Gazette.

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With the Cavalia-affiliated Canadians safely home, what remains are questions. Was the alleged cannabis use for medical purposes, thus casting the alleged users as international medical-marijuana trailblazers? Or was it for recreational purposes, thus casting the alleged consumers as idiots who’d risk everything to get high in a country where drug possession can be punishable by death?

Or did the alleged cannabis use happen at all? Between the Beijing police’s “test for marijuana use” (which could feasibly show traces of the drug ingested weeks before) and the arrested Cavalia employees’ reported “concerns” with Chinese authorities, there’s a lot of interpretive wiggle room.

For now, hurrah for the safely returned Canadians, and stay tuned for more info.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Massachusetts Cannabis Overhaul Could Prompt Legal Challenge

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is expected to sign a cannabis overhaul bill that the state Legislature sent to his desk on Thursday, but one Republican lawmaker is already warning that one of the bill’s provisions could invite a lawsuit.

The bill, H.3818, would effectively repeal and replace the law that voters passed in November to legalize adult-use cannabis. Cannabis would still be legal for adults 21 and older, but with new regulatory tweaks. The legislation would set a higher cannabis tax than what voters approved, merge government oversight of medical and adult-use systems, impose restrictions on advertising and change how cities and towns can ban retail cannabis stores and other facilities.

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Sens. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Linda Dorcena Forry tweeted this short video to explain the impact of the measure:

The bill’s approval marks a milestone for lawmakers, who have been at loggerheads for weeks over cannabis regulations and only recently struck a compromise.

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Even that compromise may not stand, though. According to the state Senate’s top Republican, Sen. Bruce E. Tarr of Gloucester, changes to how cities and counties ban cannabis facilities would set a “very dangerous precedent” and could spark a legal challenge.

“A group of people in Massachusetts will have their right to vote extinguished.”

Sen. Bruce E. Tarr (R-Gloucester)

Under the law passed by voters in November, local voters were given the option of banning or otherwise restricting cannabis in their respective city or town. The Legislature’s new bill takes some of that control away from voters and puts it in the hands of elected officials.

Specifically, in municipalities that voted in favor of legalization, a vote would still be required to ban or severely limit cannabis businesses. But in cities and towns that voted against the measure, local officials could enact limits themselves.

“A group of people in Massachusetts will have their right to vote extinguished by virtue of the way they voted on a ballot question,” Tarr said on the Senate floor (“with incredulity,” according to the Boston Globe).

Tarr warned that by disenfranchising those voters, lawmakers could risk a constitutional challenge down the road that could potentially lead to “the incapacitation of this lawsuit.”

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Outside lawyers have reportedly questioned whether the provision might violate guarantees of equal protection of the law but that wasn’t enough to sway most lawmakers. Sen. William N. Brownsberger (D-Belmont), dismissed the worries as “nonsense.”

A spokeswoman for the governor has said that Baker “appreciates the Legislature’s work on this bill and will carefully review it in the coming days.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

The Future of California Cannabis Depends on Rain

Water in California is a notoriously hot commodity. As a state that’s spent more time in a drought than out of it during the past five years, legalizing a new, water-intensive agricultural crop—especially when that crop has the historical baggage that cannabis does—is a complicated process.

Done carelessly, cannabis grows can have profoundly negative impacts on nature, polluting waterways with pesticides and clearing trees and shrubs that help support a healthy ecosystem. This is especially true of illegal cultivation, which has bled into national forests and other protected land in recent years.

On the flipside, when done thoughtfully, cannabis uses a lot less water than California’s other agricultural staples, such as almonds, said Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association—and it offers a considerably higher profit margin.

“We’ve got a [water] crisis on our hands in California, and it’s much bigger than cannabis,” Allen said.

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In an effort to balance environmental concerns with marijuana’s projected $7 billion market, California is ushering in a bevy of rules and regulations related to water use. In June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a cannabis omnibus bill that, among other things, sets standards for organic marijuana and establishes environmental protections.

“It’s not going to be, ‘No you can’t grow.’ It’s going to be, ‘No you can’t grow unless you store enough water.’”

Hezekiah Allen, California Growers Association

The bill, SB 94, includes a provision that allows regulators to restrict cannabis cultivation if they determine it’s causing environmental harm. Specifically, it bars the Department of Fish and Wildlife “from issuing new cannabis licenses or increasing the total number of plant identifiers within a watershed or area, if the board or the Department of Food and Agriculture finds, based on substantial evidence, that cannabis cultivation is causing significant adverse impacts on the environment in a watershed or other geographic area.”

In other words, the goal is to limit cultivation to only what California’s ecosystems can support.

The clause is similar to one tucked into Proposition 64, which voters passed last year to legalize adult-use marijuana. It requires each individual cannabis plant to display a unique ID number—and it says that if a particular watershed can’t support additional cultivation, no new plant identifiers will be issued.

That means growers won’t be able to plant where there’s not enough water to support their crops—something that could spell disaster for cultivators who rely solely on water from watersheds, said Allen, a former grower who now focuses full-time on public policy.

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California currently plays host to roughly 40,000 to 80,000 cannabis growers, according to estimates from both industry groups and the US Drug Enforcement Agency. To stay afloat, cultivators will need to focus on sustainability, Allen said, such as storing rainwater during the wet months for use during the dry summer.

“It’s not going to be, ‘No you can’t grow,’” he said. “It’s going to be, ‘No you can’t grow unless you store enough water.’”

The overarching goal of the legal framework around water use is to require growers to be “good stewards” of water if they want to continue operations unimpeded, said Allen, noting that cannabis can actually be grown on a very small footprint using “barely any water” compared to California’s other primary cash crops. Most cannabis-producing regions in the state, he said, could rely completely on captured rainwater to irrigate.

But while rainwater is free, the equipment to capture and store it can cost a pretty penny. Allen said cultivators need to formulate realistic business plans that fold in the cost of a rain-catchment system. For a in Northern California, that could cost approximately $250,000 to $300,000.

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While the wonders of rainfall may work fine for Northern California growers, the approach runs into problems in the arid climes of Southern California. By Allen’s calculations, based on the average amount of water needed per square foot of grow space, a cultivator with a 100-square-foot cultivation area would need to capture 15 inches to 18 inches of rain per year to effectively irrigate. While this past winter was California’s rainiest season in 122 years—with the state, on average, receiving a whopping 27 inches between October 2016 and February 2017—that’s far from the norm. The five seasons prior saw record low rainfall throughout the state, with many Southern California cities getting less than 10 inches per year.

“These are unique requirements for cannabis cultivation, recognizing the impacts that we’re seeing out there in the watershed.”

Erin Ragazzi, State Water Resources Control Board, Water Rights Division

The rules governing water use in cannabis are complex and intertwined. They include statutes born of cannabis laws as well as regulations promulgated by various state agencies. Earlier this month, the State Water Resources Control Board released its 117-page draft cannabis cultivation policy, which aims to ensure that water diversion and waste disposal don’t harm wetlands, water quality, or animal habitats. The rules apply not only to commercial medical and commercial adult-use cultivators, they also govern home growers.

“These are unique requirements for cannabis cultivation, recognizing the impacts that we’re seeing out there in the watershed and where these grows are taking place,” said Erin Ragazzi, assistant deputy director of at the State Water Resources Control Board’s water rights division.

Under the agency’s regulations, cannabis cultivators will be allowed to divert water from streams during the wet, winter months as long as a given waterway’s flow is above a certain level. If water drops below that pre-designated mark, growers will be barred from tapping in.

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During the dry season, Ragazzi said, cultivators will be banned from diverting water no matter what the conditions.

“Water supply will always be a concern in the state of California. It’s exacerbated in years when we have lower supplies,” she said.

(ksteffens/iStock)

The new draft policy acknowledges California’s “size and geographic diversity,” explaining that within the state’s 163,696 square miles, there are 800 miles of coastline, multiple mountain ranges, and hundreds of scattered valleys. These factors all lead to “highly variable climate, precipitation and drainage patterns,” which is why water board has divided the state into 14 different regions, each with varying requirements around how much water needs to be present in a stream before that water can be used to grow cannabis.

“It doesn’t matter where the water comes out of the tap. It matters where the water comes out of the ecosystem.”

Hezekiah Allen, California Growers Association

Much of the conversation around water regulation is currently focused on outdoor grows, particularly in California’s agricultural epicenters such as the Central Valley and Emerald Triangle. Indoor growing is going to be “particularly tricky,” said Allen of the California Growers Association.

Most indoor cultivators will have to pump water from their respective municipal agencies—but will only be allowed to do so if the water the agency is receiving is eligible for use by a cannabis grow. Los Angeles, for example, owns municipal reservoirs but also buys imported water to supplement supply. If it turns out the municipal agency is in fact getting its water from a federal dam or watershed that’s overextended, the grow won’t be allowed to use it, Allen said.

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“It doesn’t matter where the water comes out of the tap,” he explained. “It matters where the water comes out of the ecosystem.”

Which is something that many cannabis cultivators along the North Coast haven’t seem too concerned with, according to Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club of California. Growing medical marijuana has been legal for 20 years, she said, yet many of the cultivators know nothing about water rights, regulations, or protecting the environment from pesticides, she said.

“They’re allowed to grow this stuff, and they’re doing it in a way that’s creating substantial harm for plants, for the waterways, for animals,” said Phillips. “Marijuana growers are part of California’s agricultural industry, and, I think until relatively recently, they’ve seen themselves as being different.”

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The North Coast has been impacted significantly by both legal and illegal grows, Phillips said. Cannabis, can cause erosion, contaminate wildlife habitat, and leave behind debris or toxins. This may be in part because cannabis growers have tended to be located in more remote areas, sometimes out of reach of patrolling water enforcers, she said. Non-cannabis farmers are more typically located within agricultural districts, subject to oversight and familiar with water-use practices (including water cuts) that historically haven’t been imposed on cannabis growers, she said.

The Sierra Club tried to change this through its involvement in prior legislation that aimed to hold cannabis cultivators to the laws of the Fish and Wildlife Department and State Water Resources Board, which all other state agricultural operations are required to follow.

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“What if every farmer in the San Joaquin Valley did not obey the law?” she asked. “Can you imagine what a mess it would be?”

In short, while there’s been regulation, there so far hasn’t been much education or enforcement, said Phillips. That stands to change under new state laws and cannabis regulations, which allocate the funds needed to hire staff, implement educational programs, and build out an enforcement team.

California will almost assuredly face droughts in the future. Some farmers are already looking north. But if the state’s emerging water-use rules work out, the newest legal crop—considered one of the largest—may be able to keep on growing.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

The Cannabis Lawyer: An Interview with Jack Lloyd

Toronto cannabis lawyer Jack Lloyd looks more like a roadie for the Grateful Dead than a trial lawyer—a fact that’s helped him earn the trust of his clients, who know he’s equally at home in either world and that his brain (not his hair) is what’s on display when he represents high-profile cannabis clients like Marc Emery. With years of tutelage under revered Canadian cannabis lawyer Paul Lewin and a peer group including cannabis-law giants Kirk Tousaw and John Conroy (with whom he volunteers for NORML), Jack Lloyd is destined to become a lion in this brave new world of Canadian cannabis law, as he follows his self-professed goal of helping to “legalize cannabis through the judicial branch of the government in Canada.” When I reach him on the phone, he’s running to catch a streetcar, sweating in his suit after a long day in court, listening to Hot Water Music, and headed home to tend his garden.

Cannabis law isn’t for everyone—how did you come to it?

I come from the world of publishing. I‘m an editor at a publishing company called Green Candy Press, which is the largest publisher of books about the cannabis plant in the world. Law school is very, very expensive. I have a unique focus to my legal practice, and if an individual wants to specialize as I have, they cannot carry a lot of debt after their education. I worked a lot of different jobs to pay for law school—I was a landscaper and a busboy—and as a result I’m able to practice law the way I like.

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How does your publishing work relate to your law work?

I’m a cannabis legalization activist and my editorial work has really been focused on sharing knowledge about the cannabis plant. My work as an editor is essentially about helping people tell their stories about the cannabis plant in an effective way. My legal work is just a different form of advocacy for a really large community of people who have been unfairly criminalized for a long period of time. Hopefully through hard work and perseverance we can correct a historical wrong by legalizing cannabis.

What will you be looking for during the yearlong countdown to Canadian legalization?

Local flavour in regard to cannabis offenses. You already see this to a lesser extent on a provincial level, with provincial or municipal governments making decisions in regard to how they want to deal with cannabis, cannabis venues, cannabis consumption, and even cannabis sales—I am thinking particularly of British Columbia. Over the next year provincial governments are going to be thinking very seriously about how they want to regulate this type of activity.

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What advice would you give to on-the-ground activists?

For the activist community I would recommend that they start speaking with their local government because never before have we had such a clear opportunity to voice our opinions about how we think this regulation should occur and what people want. Essentially people have voted with their feet as to how they want regulation to occur and it remains to be seen whether provincial governments accept that or whether they want to implement a different scheme. There may well be a variety of interest groups vying for a voice in that conversation. I think that is quite unique in that activists can get their point across in this liminal territory between the old system and the ne— these are definitely interesting times.

What do you hope will be achieved by cannabis legalization in Canada?

From the standpoint of simple cannabis charges, I would like to see simple possession of cannabis charges evaporate. Currently they still exist but could be generally dealt with by something called “diversion” in most courts. I think the time is right for a form of judicial activism in which the judicial branch of government and officers of the court, i.e. lawyers and judges, come to some sort of agreement that simple possession of cannabis is no longer constitutionally viable and therefore not a criminal offense. I’ve described it to people with this metaphor: “You don’t want to be the very last person to get shot just before the armistice.” Someone is going to be the very last person convicted of a cannabis offense and that is both heartwarming and sad all at the same time.

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In a utopian world where your cannabis activism services are no longer needed, where would we find you?

Right now there is a group called MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies). It’s a society that advocates for the use of certain hallucinogens for therapeutic purposes. They have a broad mandate but I’m thinking of a really interesting study that they’re doing in regards to psilocybin mushrooms as an effective treatment for a variety of mental health issues. I think that some really great legal work could be done in that space, and I’d be happy to do it.

Where will you be July 1, 2018?

Hopefully not in bail court!

Any last words?

I work with Tousaw Law Corporation and if folks are interested they can contact us to chat about their legal issues.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Can the Philippines Legalize Medical Marijuana Despite Duterte’s Violent Drug Crackdown?

The Philippines is a country rich in history and cultural significance, but President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent crackdown on drug offenders has created a deep divide in the international community.

“It’s effective. I will not deprive Filipinos of the benefits of medicinal marijuana.”

Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines

Duterte won the Philippine presidential election on May 9, 2016, with 39% of the votes in his favor, running on a campaign promise to reduce crime–by killing tens of thousands of criminals. Indeed, after the election, he stuck to his word, authorizing law enforcement and civilians alike to kill anyone even suspected of being a drug dealer.

As of April 2017, there have been at least 7,000 recorded deaths of people accused of using or selling drugs. The main culprit behind the brutal extrajudicial killings is shabu, or methamphetamine.

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Amid the chaos, during this legislative session a bill was introduced in the House to legalize cannabis for medical use. While the country’s president orders the deaths of thousands of suspected drug users, the government is also actively trying to legalize medical marijuana.

The Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act

House Bill 180 is the successor to the former medical cannabis bill, House Bill 4477, known as the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act that was filed during the 16th Congress while former President of the Philippines, Corazon Aquino, was still in office. The bill, with 70 coauthors signed on, only made as far as the House Committee on Health before dying.

The bill had to be refiled under Duterte’s administration as “The Philippine Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act,” by the original author, Isabela Representative Congressman Rodito Albano III.

Shockingly, Duterte expressed support for the bill during his 2016 campaign, saying,“It’s effective. I will not deprive Filipinos of the benefits of medicinal marijuana.”

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We reached out to Kimmi del Prado of the Philippine Compassionate Society to learn more about cannabis in the Philippines and what kind of legislative change the country may see in the near future.

“I’ve never encountered any plant as controversial as cannabis,” Del Prado tells Leafly. “I did my fair share of research back in college to convince myself that cannabis has been wrongly placed in history as a dangerous drug.”

“And then I became a mom,” she adds. Del Prado explains the reasons behind her passion for medical cannabis legalization. “As a parent, it’s heartbreaking to see your child suffer. You are helpless as you see your kid in pain. It gave me a big wake up call. I get impatient with my kids when it’s one of ‘those days.’ But my kids are ‘normal,’ they’re healthy. I am grateful that my kids are, but there are others who are not as fortunate as me.”

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Fostering a Cannabis Community in the Philippines

It was during this time that del Prado discovered an international cannabis community for parents who support cannabis. She learned of Moms for Marijuana International, and founded the first local chapter in the Philippines as the chapter leader, establishing its Facebook page, coincidentally, on April 20, 2013.

“As a chapter leader, my task was to check what’s going on in the local cannabis community,” Del Prado says. “I discovered the community page where I met a couple who were looking for cannabis for their daughter. Imagine, in the middle of exchanges about getting high, growing, and other personal experiences, there was this post from a dad asking about cannabis; where to buy, how to process.”

“I got in touch with the dad to ask permission if I could share their story on Facebook. I didn’t know how else to help Jun and Myca and their daughter Moon Jaden,” she explains. The daughter’s name was Moon Jaden, MJ for short. “I posted their story on the Facebook page of Philippine Moms for Marijuana. I wanted people to go straight to them for any kind of help they can offer.”

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Under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, marijuana remains illegal, classified as a dangerous drug. Possession is punishable by 6 to 12 years imprisonment, and a fine ranging from 50,000 pesos (about $1,000 USD) to 200,000 pesos (about $4,000 USD).

Moon Jaden Lugtu-Yutuc suffered from a rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome. Without any legal access to cannabis, her parents, Myca and Jun Yutuc, had to search the black market for suppliers. When a typhoon wiped out cannabis crops in the Philippines, MJ died before accessing cannabis for treatment.

“We lost Moon Jaden,” del Prado laments. “But her death was symbolic. It created a community of mostly parents, advocating for medical cannabis. One of my greatest achievement to date is bringing together advocates from all walks of life, and slowly breaking the stigma and prejudice against cannabis.”

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The Future of Cannabis in the Philippines

The current war on drugs in the Philippines generally targets drug users and dealers connected to shabu, or methamphetamine, but cannabis users are not immune to the government-sanctioned violence. Law enforcement has been given broad orders to shoot anyone resisting arrest and anyone suspected of being a drug user. As del Prado puts it, “In the absence of due process, how will we know whether they were guilty or not?”

More often than not, cannabis users fearful for their lives turn themselves into their local governments to avoid unwarranted arrests or shootings. Officials make them sign a statement saying they won’t do drugs again and they will usually be released.

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Cannabis, affectionately known as “toot-toot” by older generations, is widely used by indigenous Filipino tribes in rituals and traditional medicine and is mostly cultivated in the mountainous regions of Luzon and Mindanao. These areas are fertile and secluded, making them an ideal spot for discreet cannabis cultivation. There’s also an underground network of cannabis producers who provide cannabis to Filipinos suffering from various medical conditions, from cancer to arthritis to Dravet Syndrome.

Those who distribute cannabis, however, still face a great risk, particularly in urban areas such as Manila, where many of the drug-related arrests, raids, and extrajudicial killings occur.

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House Bill 180 (and What It Means)

“I’ve never encountered any plant as controversial as cannabis.”

Kimmi del Prado, Phillippine Compassionate Society

House Bill 180 is incredibly thorough. If the bill were to pass, it would establish a system of medical cannabis compassionate centers to distribute up to a one-month supply to registered medical cannabis patients. The patients would have the same medical protections as those afforded to individuals using prescribed pharmaceutical medication. This includes protection from discrimination as it pertains to employment, housing, education, and even child custody arrangements.

Additionally, if passed, the bill would authorize the National Institutes of Health to conduct medical research on the uses and benefits of cannabis. It would also establish an oversight committee to help implement the new program, and a new branch of the government to help enforce regulations.

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In order to qualify, patients must be diagnosed with one or more of the following conditions by a certifying physician:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord, with intractable spasticity
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Admission into hospice
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune disorders

House Bill 180 already passed through the House in April 2017. To date, it has 50 coauthors, but still sits in the Committee on Health, awaiting consideration and debate. The legislative session recently reconvened, and with Duterte’s allies holding a majority in Congress, the bill could easily be passed. Will it?


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

You Can’t Fire Cannabis Patients Just for Using Cannabis, Massachusetts High Court Rules

In what appears to be a first-of-its-kind ruling, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on Monday said that employees can’t be fired simply for using medical cannabis. Such terminations, the court said, violate state antidiscrimination rules.

“I can’t stress this enough, it’s the first case of its kind in the country.”

Dale Deitchler, employment lawyer

The opinion came as a shock to many, as every other state to consider the issue has decided that employers may indeed fire workers who test positive for cannabis—even if those employees are abiding by state law. In Colorado, for example, the state Supreme Court in 2015 held that a state law barring employers from firing workers for legal, off-duty behavior didn’t apply because cannabis is still illegal under federal law. California, Washington, Montana, and others have issued similar rulings.

In Massachusetts, it’s now a different story.

“I can’t stress this enough, it’s the first case of its kind in the country,” Dale Deitchler, an employment attorney and expert on cannabis in the workplace, told MassLive. “The court created law.”

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While the opinion could be a game-changer for medical cannabis patients, it’s far from an endorsement of on-the-job consumption. Employees can still be fired for using cannabis before or during work, or for failing a drug test if consumption isn’t part of a doctor-approved medical treatment. And workers with safety-sensitive jobs, such as pilots, truck drivers, and others, can still lose their jobs if they test positive for cannabis.

For patients like plaintiff Cristina Barbuto, however, the new precedent means no longer having to decide between medicine and employment.

Barbuto, a state-legal medical cannabis patient, was offered a job at Advantage Sales and Marketing (ASM) in 2014. When the company said she’d need to take a mandatory drug test, she replied that she would test positive for cannabis because she uses it to treat her Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disorder. (About 40% of all US workers are subjected to drug tests during the hiring process.)

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According to court records, Barbuto consumes cannabis two or three times per week, usually in the evenings, to help stimulate appetite and maintain a healthy weight. She assured ASM she wouldn’t consume either before or during her workday.

At first, Barbuto’s supervisor told her that her medical use of cannabis “should not be a problem,” the court opinion says. He later called her to confirm the same. But after Barbuto submitted a urine sample and completed her first day of work, an ASM human resources representative informed her that she’d been terminated for testing positive for cannabis.

“We follow federal law, not state law,” the representative said, according to court records.

Barbuto filed suit.

Don’t assume the ruling means you can wake and bake before tomorrow’s commute.

In Monday’s decision, the state’s high court concluded that the matter essentially boiled down to whether allowing Barbuto’s offsite cannabis use constituted a reasonable accommodation for her medical condition.

“An employee’s use of medical marijuana under these circumstances is not facially unreasonable as an accommodation of her handicap,” justices concluded, meaning cannabis use shouldn’t inherently be out-of-bounds for employees with debilitating conditions. Despite that fact, “it does not necessarily mean that the employee will prevail in proving handicap discrimination,” the court wrote. The question is whether accommodating an employee’s medical cannabis use “would create undue hardship” on an employer.

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The court gives some examples. An employer might demonstrate that allowing cannabis use would create an “unacceptably significant” safety risk to the public, the employee, or coworkers. Or the employer could show that cannabis use “would violate an employer’s contractual or statutory obligation, and thereby jeopardize its ability to perform its business.” Transportation companies, for instance, are subject to US Department of Transportation rules that disallow accommodations for cannabis.

The upshot? Don’t assume that Monday’s ruling means you can wake and bake before tomorrow’s commute. But if you’re a law-abiding Massachusetts medical patient who only consumes outside of work and doesn’t show up impaired, the state’s highest court is now on your side.


Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.

Medical Cannabis Headed Back to Florida Ballot

After narrowly failing to legalize medical cannabis in 2014, advocates in Florida are headed back to the ballot. Organizers announced Wednesday they’ve secured more than enough signatures to qualify a measure for the November election.

The matter will appear on the ballot as Amendment 2. If approved, it would allow cannabis use by patients with the following conditions:

Cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or other debilitating medical conditions of the same kind or class as or comparable to those enumerated, and for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risks for a patient.

Production and distribution and would be regulated by the state health department, which would also be responsible for issuing cards to patients and caretakers. The complete ballot language is available here.

“Every day, doctors prescribe dangerous, addictive, and potentially deadly narcotics to their patients but can’t even suggest the use of marijuana, which has never killed a person in thousands of years of human civilization,” campaign manager Ben Pollara said in a statement. “Very soon, Florida doctors will finally have that option.”

A similar effort won 57.6 percent of votes just two years ago, but as as a constitutional amendment it needed 60-percent approval to pass. This time around, however, proponents are convinced public opinion has shifted in their favor. On its website, the group claims that over 70 percent of voters support legalizing medical cannabis.

“We feel very good that 60 percent plus of Florida voters will finally approve a true medical marijuana law,” Pollara told the Associated Press.

The campaign has set up a contribution page to accept donations.

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Thanks you for visiting FLMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Florida. Currently, there is a Medical Marijuana Initiative on the November 2016 Ballot to legalize High-THC Medical Marijuana in the State of Florida. The FLMMCC Florida State Licensed Doctors are ready to review your medical records for a “FREE Pre-Qualification”. This will be the first step in becoming a legal Florida Medical Marijuana patient when the law passes.